The Hawks are now 65 games into the grueling 82-game NBA season but have only gotten better as the year has gone on. The emergence of Trae Young and John Collins as potential All-Stars has the fan base rejuvenated after only two years of rebuilding. Their progression already has the Hawks brass’ prepping to turn the page this offseason and potentially add star talent in free agency if they can. What will aid that decision is whether or not Atlanta can hold onto their two lottery picks, which is no longer a foregone conclusion and getting bleaker by the day.
The Hawks themselves remain comfortably in the fifth spot of the Tankathon standings, as they have been for a few months now. With Atlanta being four games better than the Bulls and 3.5 games worse than the Grizzlies, one can assume they will occupy this spot a month from now when the season ends.
In that case, the Hawks will have a 42.1% chance of picking in the top-four and a 10.5% chance of picking #1 overall. Keep in mind, the flattened out lottery odds give the three worst records all a 14% chance of picking first, so not that much better than Atlanta. Ping pong balls sort only the first four picks. After that, records determine spots 5-14 in the lottery, meaning the Hawks cannot fall outside the top eight picks.
What people will be more interested in is the Dallas Mavericks pick. That pick goes to the Hawks as long as they do not land in the top five. I wrote about this when the Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas trade went down right before the trade deadline: the Mavericks were going full tank mode in hopes of landing in the top-five and keeping their draft pick.
It’s a genius move considering they were almost guaranteed to lose the pick and not make the playoffs in the West the way things were going. By adding a shut-down Kristaps Porzingis that should be fully healthy next year and ridding of the rest of their talent, the Mavericks are hoping to create a young Big 3 in the form of Luka Doncic, Kristaps Prozingis, and their 2019-draft pick.
While most people laughed at the notion, it’s now coming to fruition in front of our very eyes. The Mavericks are 4-9 since that trade went down on January 31st and have lost seven of their last eight games, moving them up to 8th in the Tankathon standings, nipping at the heals of the Washington Wizards for the seventh spot. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that Dallas moves up ahead of the Wizards and possibly challenges the Memphis Grizzlies for the sixth spot, whom they are only 2.5 games better than right now.
Currently, in the eighth spot, The Mavericks have a 26.3% chance that the ping pong balls fall their way and they land inside the top-five. However, with a little more losing, those odds would go up to 31.9% in the seventh spot and 37.2% in the sixth spot. This is worth keeping a close eye on over the last month of the season. But no matter what, the Hawks potentially having two lottery picks is going to fall with those ping balls. Atlanta can only sit and hope they fall in their favor for once.