Friday Tiebreakers Set to Impact Hawks' Pick Locations in 2018 Draft

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Story by KL Chouinard
Twitter: @KLChouinard

The Hawks will know a great deal more about their four picks in the 2018 NBA Draft when the NBA breaks its ties Friday afternoon.

The Hawks and the Dallas Mavericks finished with identical 24-58 records. Only Phoenix (21-61) and Memphis (22-60) earned fewer wins, so the Hawks and Mavericks tied for the third-worst record. The NBA will break the tie Friday.
The team that wins gets the #3 pre-lottery spot: 138 combinations out of 1,000 in the lottery and a 13.8 percent chance at the #1 overall pick. The team that loses gets 137 combinations out of 1,000 and a 13.7% percent chance to get #1 pick. In terms of their chances at getting a top-3 pick, Atlanta and Dallas will have nearly identical odds regardless of who wins the tiebreaker. 
 
But the tiebreaker still impacts the order for the draft in two key ways.
 
1) The Default Ordering (if neither team wins a top-3 pick)
 
The tiebreaker determines the default ordering of the teams. The NBA lottery uses weighted odds to randomly select the ordering for the top three picks. Beyond the top three picks, however, the order is dictated by reverse-order of the standings – but the Hawks and Mavericks are tied at 24 wins. If neither the Hawks nor the Mavericks get a top-3 pick, then the winner of the tiebreak is guaranteed to finish with a lottery pick just in front of the loser of the tiebreak. 
 
The winner of the tiebreaker and holder of the #3 pre-lottery spot is guaranteed to have a pick no worse than 6th. The loser of the tiebreaker and holder of the #4 pre-lottery spot is guaranteed to have a pick no worse than 7th. Moreover, the winner is significantly more likely to get the #4 (23.8 percent chance) pick than the loser (8.5 percent), who, in turn, is much more likely than the winner to end up 6th.
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2) The Second Round
 
The winner of the tiebreaker will have the worse pick in the second round. So if Atlanta wins the tiebreaker and gets the third-best lottery odds, they will get overall pick #34, the fourth pick of the second round. If they lose the tiebreaker and get the fourth-best lottery odds, they receive overall pick #33.
 
The Other Tiebreaker -- For a Pick Sealed Wednesday 
 
By virtue of a 2015 trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Hawks held the lottery-protected rights to Minnesota's first-round pick. With the Timberwolves' playoff clinching win Wednesday over the Denver Nuggets, that pick will convey to Atlanta in the 2018 Draft. Both the Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs finished with 47 wins and 35 losses. In terms of the Draft, the Hawks (via Minnesota) and Spurs will receive the #18 and #19 picks, but part of the tie-breaking procedure will be to determine which team gets which pick. 
 
One pick that doesn't hinge on a tiebreaker or lottery
 
Last July, the Hawks made a trade with Houston that netted them Houston's 2018 first-round pick. The Rockets finished with the best record in the NBA, so the Hawks also hold the rights to pick #30 in this draft. 
 
How does one watch ties being broken?
 
The NBA's Board of Governors convenes for an afternoon meeting on Friday, April 13. The ties are broken following that meeting. It will be shown on NBA TV.
 
Last year's procedure
 
If you want to see an example of how the ties are broken, here is a video of how the process was done in advance of the 2017 Draft.
 
To sum it up
 
The Hawks currently hold the rights to four picks in the 2018 Draft
  • A lottery pick with either the third-best or fourth-best odds
  • Pick #18 or #19  (to be determined Friday)
  • Pick #30
  • Pick #33 or #34 (to be determined Friday)