Despite their less than noteworthy record, the Hawks could not be further from a tanking team. They are 22-25 in their last 47 games and won six of their last ten. Trae Young has transformed from an overachieving rookie to a legitimate All-Star caliber player, while John Collins continues his bid for the Most Improved Player award. With only five games left in the season, we now have a pretty clear idea of what to expect when the NBA Draft Lottery takes place six weeks from now.
The Hawks still have the fifth worst record in the NBA, giving them a 42.1% chance at landing in the top four and a 10.5% chance of receiving the #1 overall pick. There is no way for them to better their odds either. The Bulls at 21-56 currently hold the fourth spot and are 7.5 games worse than the Hawks. It is possible for the Hawks to move back to the sixth spot; however, with the tanking Mavericks trying to improve their lottery odds as much as possible before the season ends.
That’s critical, of course, because the Hawks own the Mavs first-round pick next year, except it is top-five protected. Currently, Dallas is 2.5 games better than Atlanta with 11 combined games remaining on their schedules.
The way the new lottery works is the top four teams are selected using ping pong balls. After that, the teams are sorted by record, with the worst clubs receiving the highest picks. If the Mavs stay in the 6th spot, they will have a 37.2% of getting a top-four pick. However, their record would not allow them to finish in the fifth spot. If they somehow ended with a worse record than Atlanta, not only would they now have a 42.1% of landing in the top four, but they also would have an outside shot at receiving the fifth pick, depending on how the ping pong balls fall.
Keeping up with how the Mavs and Hawks finish the season is worth monitoring, but as a Hawks fan, I would not get too worked up about it. Atlanta is rebuilding the right way. They are establishing a winning culture and have nailed their draft picks since Travis Schlenk arrived. Hopefully, karma works in their favor, and the Hawks end up with two lottery selections on draft night. But regardless, this team is heading in the right direction, something that has not been said about this organization all too often.