Hawks get No. 6 pick in NBA draft lottery

Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk (left) and owner Tony Ressler (right), along with coach Lloyd Pierce.   Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk (left) and owner Tony Ressler (right), along with coach Lloyd Pierce. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

The Hawks received the No. 6 pick in Thursday’s draft lottery, which was held virtually.

Taking into account all the odds, the Hawks were projected to pick fourth, so they dropped in the lottery for the second year in a row. Looking at individual percentages, however, this was the most likely outcome, as they entered the lottery with a 25.7% chance of landing at sixth.

Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk wasn’t disappointed with landing at No. 6.

“We ended up right where we were supposed to,” Schlenk said. “Our greatest odd was being at sixth, 25 percent, so we won. ... Losing would have been seventh or eighth.”

They’ll get to use that pick on Oct. 16 in the 2020 NBA draft. The Minnesota Timberwolves were awarded the No. 1 pick in the lottery, the Warriors got No. 2, the Hornets got No. 3, the Bulls got No. 4 and the Cavaliers got No. 5.

In descending order of odds after their 25.7% shot at No. 6, the Hawks had a 16.7% chance at the No. 7 pick, 12.5% chance at the No. 1 pick, 12.2% chance at the No. 2 pick, 11.9% chance at the No. 3 pick, 11.5% chance at the No. 4 pick, 7.2% chance at the No. 5 pick and 2.2% chance at the No. 8 pick.

Last season, the Hawks were projected to pick fifth, but didn’t have the best luck and fell to eighth. This season, their first-round pick could not fall out of the top eight. They will also have the No. 50 pick in the second round.

The Hawks have a young core of Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish in place. If they keep the pick, that player, despite being a high draft pick, will likely have to compete for minutes more so than the past few seasons, according to Schlenk.

“I think it’ll be more of a situation where you have to earn as opposed to be given, which is good, and the same for the guys that are on our roster,” Schlenk said. “We end up getting a player and you know what, he’s earned it, he’s going to get it. So I think that’s a positive, I don’t view that as a negative at all.”

The Warriors, Timberwolves and Cavaliers each entered with a 14% chance at the No. 1 pick, with the Hawks having the next best shot at it. This upcoming draft does not necessarily have a consensus No. 1 pick, but some of the top prospects include LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman.

One reason evaluating this draft class is more difficult, Schlenk said, is because the coronavirus cut seasons short.

“I think what makes this draft class difficult is you don’t have big books on them,” Schlenk said. “A couple of them went overseas, got hurt, one kid left college early, and so you weren’t able to see them play a lot this year, and then obviously things got cut short with conference tournaments, so we don’t have the luxury of going to the conference tournaments, see these kids, seeing how they play in the NCAA Tournament.”

Jami Gertz, who owns the team along with her husband, Tony Ressler, represented the Hawks at the virtual event. This marked the Hawks’ third straight trip to the lottery, but Gertz is hoping it will be their last, as the team aims for the playoffs next season.

Schlenk didn’t go that far, but he did mention it’s time for the Hawks to start winning more, and pointed out the Hawks’ improved roster by adding Clint Capela: “I think the expectation for all of us is we want to continue to see our team improve. I’ve said in the past, we want to continue to add players obviously through the draft, free agency, that we think fit, and we want to see the growth of our players collectively and individually.

“And we feel like we have a good young core. Obviously we went out and got more aggressive this past trade deadline and went out and took on some players that had money, something that we hadn’t done in the past. So I think it’s fair to say that we do want to see our group start to improve on the court as far as wins and losses go. I wouldn’t necessarily say, put the pressure on them or anyone that it’s playoffs or bust. But we do want to start to see our group improving on the floor for sure.”