Hawks’ biggest game in years is a game of chance

One of these two people hold the key to the Hawks future Tuesday night - and it's not the one on the right. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
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One of these two people hold the key to the Hawks future Tuesday night - and it's not the one on the right. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Credit: Jordan Strauss

Credit: Jordan Strauss

Seeing how actual athletic competition and game-planning and quantifiable tests of skill haven’t always worked out for the best around here, time to train our focus on the completely random.

Are you feeling it yet, this tingle of anticipation not unlike the one when feeding your last quarter into a slot machine? It’s NBA Draft Lottery fever.

Are you ready for Tuesday night’s totally arbitrary exercise, in which all 14 of the league’s most doughy, awkward kids from the preceding NBA season line up and draw lots for a one-day fashion and dermatological makeover? The bigger the loser, the better the chance to win in this one. It’s all a little more technical than that – it involves real jet-propelled pingpong balls and a math so complex that it would flummox Archimedes. But you get the idea.

There’s a Game 7 feel to this game of chance, and perhaps the biggest one the Hawks have played since Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins danced.

The Hawks, who failed to lose enough this season, still have a 10.5% chance to land the top draft pick and the big fellow from Duke who, it is said, can change the course of rivers, history and basketball franchises. While 10.5% is not great, it’s still better than many Atlanta-based odds. Why, it’s a comparatively sure thing.

So, you’re saying there’s a chance. That is the battle cry to be taken up now, one that rings both desperate and hopeful, simultaneously.

Although it is difficult to shake the feeling that the Lakers and their 2% odds of landing the top pick will magically come through because LeBron James can’t be allowed to spend one more moment in the dark cellar of insignificance.

In a very big lottery, the Hawks are a very big player. Because of the trade last year with Dallas that also netted a top-5 protected pick this year, the Hawks have all kinds of variables working Tuesday night. A good turn for them and a poor one for the Mavs would make this an almost embarrassing haul for the home team.

You’d be a little more comfortable going in had the Hawks not put together 29 wins this season – well over most projections – and bettered their odds. If only Lloyd Pierce were not such a determined coach. If only Trae Young had kept shooting like he were blindfolded. We will soon find out just how much this team was done in by its own pride and competence.

But this is nonetheless a potentially seminal moment for the Hawks. Certainly, it is one worthy of community observance. So, what then to serve at your NBA Draft Lottery party Tuesday night? The theme is taking a chance, right? So why not crack open that box of wine that has been gathering dust in the pantry and serve the French onion dip with the illegible expiration date?

Lotteries never are the recommended way to go about building a future, certainly not as reliable as depending upon your own steady toil and the accumulation of slowly compounding wealth. But, sometimes, they are all you’ve got.

This makes Jami Gertz Atlanta’s most important sporting figure, as least for the next days. She’s the actress whose film credits include “The Lost Boys,” which could be either a tale about vampires or the old Atlanta Spirit ownership group. She’s also the wife of Hawks owner Tony Ressler, and she will represent the team at Tuesday night’s lottery. This makes her the CEO in charge of mojo.

A year ago, her mere presence resulted in the Hawks moving up one spot to get the No. 3 pick. Gertz really needs to pick up her game this year because it is time for something very good to happen for this team. An expect-a-miracle approach is the only way to go at Tuesday night. Sure, even if the Hawks don’t land the No. 1 pick, Tuesday could be a nice night. But, you don’t scratch off a lottery ticket thinking, “All I want to do is win another ticket.”

The Hawks can win a kingdom Tuesday night, and if so, we shall make her a queen.

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