Welcome back to the ping-pong chronicles...(drum roll)...season two! In case this is your first time reading, we at Peachtree Hoops understand that there is a large portion of the Hawks fan base focused on Atlanta’s future assets (i.e. the NBA Draft, picks owed to the Hawks by other teams, etc.). So, in the waning days of the 2019 NBA Season, we will be keeping a close eye on Atlanta’s fluctuating lottery position and also the status of the other two first-round selections owed to the Hawks by Cleveland and Dallas.
Hawks draft position
The Hawks have already officially been eliminated from the NBA Playoffs. As of March 31st, Atlanta continues to hold the fifth-worst record in the NBA overall, and with the fourth-worst record in the Eastern Conference.
Tankathon.com gives them a 42.1 percent chance at securing a top-4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a 10.5 percent chance at snagging the No. 1 overall pick. Atlanta’s chances at a top pick will be up to the play of Phoenix, New York, Cleveland and Chicago, who currently sit in front of them in the Draft Lottery rankings. It has now become technically impossible for the Hawks to finish below any of those teams as they sit 7 wins ahead of the Bulls, the next closest team. The Hawks are within their final 5 games, and this final two weeks of matchups will not be especially favorable, at least on paper.
Hawks upcoming schedule
Atlanta’s last few matchups will be fairly difficult to say the least. The Hawks will face all playoff teams with the exception of Orlando, who are currently sitting ninth overall in the east. Next up will be the Spurs on Tuesday, and following that game, Atlanta will draw the 76ers, Magic, Bucks and Pacers to close the season.
The Hawks realistically have nothing to play for (at least in the standings) the rest of the way, but expect Lloyd Pierce to have his team still trying hard to win games as you’ve recently witnessed. Because, as we all should know by now, coaches and players don’t tank. The Hawks’ last game resulted in another signature moment for Trae Young, who hit the game winning shot to beat the Bucks at the horn on Sunday.
Dallas pick status
Atlanta holds the most valuable current array of draft selections according to tankathon.com’s composite draft score ratings. Atlanta’s current composite draft score of 175.09 sits more than 68 points(!) ahead of the next closest team (Phoenix). A part of Atlanta’s high score are their three valuable second-round picks: their own, Charlotte’s, and the worse of choices from either the Minnesota Timberwolves or Los Angeles Lakers. Those picks are projected to be No. 35, No. 41, and No. 42, at least at the time of this post.
The Hawks are also keeping a close eye on the Mavericks’ record since Atlanta owns Dallas’ ultra valuable first-round pick if everything falls into place. The pick from Dallas is protected for selections 1-5 in the Draft, which means the Mavs would need to get lucky in the lottery by hitting on a top-four pick for the pick to not convey. Dallas now sits as the second-worst team in the Western Conference Playoff race with the Grizzlies not far behind, leading to some way too-close-for-comfort feelings for the Hawks.
The pick would currently land as the No. 6 selection in the Draft (at least until the lottery), but it’s far from certain that the pick will actually convey to Atlanta. After the Hawks win against Milwaukee, they now sit just two games back in the win column from Dallas. The Mavericks have now been officially eliminated from the playoffs, but were able to beat the struggling Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, retaining the two-win gap above Atlanta.
It should be noted that tiebreaker rules do not apply in the lottery, and if Dallas were to tie with Atlanta for the fifth-worst record, the teams would simply split the percent chances of winning a top five selection or number one overall pick. It isn’t until outside of the lottery where ping-pong balls are drawn to separate teams that are tied in the standings. If the teams are tied and the lottery holds to form for the top four picks, it would up to random chance whether the Hawks would get the Mavericks’ pick or it would land at No. 5 and stay with Dallas.
In the lottery, if a team has the exact same record as another team(s) the average number of their two combined chances is taken and distributed to both teams unless the average of the two team’s chances is not an integer (AKA “a whole number” or “non-decimal”) in which case a coin flip will determine which team gets the slight decimal advantage.
This selection may end up being very close to not conveying, but the Hawks will be more than ecstatic if they manage to gain another top-10 pick in the upcoming draft. If the season were to end today, the Hawks would have a 62.8 percent chance of obtaining the pick from Dallas, with the remaining 37.2 percent divided up between the top four, each of which would remain with the Mavericks if ‘Lady Luck’ is with them on lottery night.
It is important to note that while the Hawks have nearly all of their games left against playoff teams, the Mavericks only have two of their six games remaining against current playoff teams. So, there is still some hope that Dallas will create some more breathing room by winning games to give the Hawks some hope of keeping the pick despite the Mavericks choosing to sit star rookie Luka Doncic for the remainder of the season.
Make sure to keep your eyes on the scoreboards (and cheer for the Mavericks) coming down the final stretch of this long 2019 schedule. The Hawks have the possibility of being set up very nicely in the 2019 Draft if everything were to go their way, which is really good news for a fan base already witnessing the young team making huge strides towards winning consistently. Adding two top-10 selections to this team could/would accelerate the rebuilding timeline by (quite) a bit.
Stay tuned for the next episode of the ping-pong chronicles.