Travis Schlenk eagerly awaits the NBA draft lottery.
Not that the Hawks general manager has any control over the potentially franchise-altering results.
The annual event, where the fortunes of franchises rest on the unpredictable bounces of ping pong balls with a complicated array of odds, is about to reshape the league again. With the potential for two top-10 selections, including the No. 1 overall pick, perhaps no other team has more at stake than the Hawks this year. That’s why Schlenk is looking forward to May 14 in Chicago. Not that he would admit it publicly.
“I’m not one to waste a lot of time on things I can’t control – which is essentially anything that happens at my house and the lottery,” Schlenk joked Friday.
The organization made a major step forward in its rebuild after last season with three first-round picks in Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman. Young is a rookie of the year candidate and Huerter became a starter. With a core of young players, which includes John Collins, the Hawks exceeded their own expectations last season with 29 wins. Schlenk said the front office projected 25 wins. The thought of adding two more coveted first-round picks to the mix has the team and its fan base counting the days to the lottery.
The Hawks are slotted fifth for their first-round selection. They will get the Mavericks’ first-round selection, slotted ninth, if it’s not in the top five after last year’s draft night trade of Luka Doncic for Young.
With the new draft lottery system, the Hawks have a 10.5 percent chance to move up to pick Nos. 1-4, a 2.2 percent chance to remain at No. 5, a 19.6 percent chance to move back to No. 6 and a 26.7 percent chance to fall to No. 7. There are also slim chances to fall to No. 8 or No. 9.
The Mavericks have a 46.4 percent chance to remain at No. 9, which would convey to the Hawks.
This year, the three highest lottery teams (Knicks, Cavaliers and Suns) all have a 14 percent chance at the No. 1 pick compared to 25, 19.9 and 15.6 percent last year.
“We like the position we are in,” Schlenk said. “It would be real exciting with the best-case scenario to have (picks) one and nine. That would be great for the franchise. We are looking forward to it.”
Last season, under the old lottery system, the Hawks moved up one spot to No. 3.
Schlenk would not say definitively whether the Hawks would take Duke’s Zion Williamson should they get the top pick. However, his description of the Player of the Year would make it seem a likely decision.
The Hawks also have three second-round picks, their own at No. 25, the Lakers’ at No. 41 and the Hornets’ at No. 42-44 (depending on the lottery results). Schlenk acknowledged that the Hawks probably won’t bring in five rookies so it’s likely he will make a move around the June 20 draft to package the picks and trade up, trade a pick for more assets or draft a player to keep overseas, known as draft and stash.
Schlenk is focused on taking the best player available even with nine players under guaranteed contracts next season. He did not rule out taking another point guard even with Young a star in the making. Point guards have value across the league.
“We are still in a development stage,” Schlenk said. “We feel good about the development we made this year but I think it’s important not to jump steps. We are still going to take the best players we can. You look at the playoffs now, position-less basketball is what is out there. We are going to keep getting the best talent we can, keep adding them to the mix and we’ll figure out how to blend them on the back end.”
HAWKS DRAFT LOTTERY ODDS
Here are the odds for the Hawks to get their first-round pick and the Mavericks’s first-round pick (which is top-5 protected).
No. 1: 10.5%
No. 2: 10.5%
No. 3: 10.5%
No. 4: 10.5%
No. 5: 2.2%
No. 6: 19.6%
No. 7: 26.7%
No. 8: 8.8%
No. 9: 0/6%
No. 9: 46.4%
No. 10: 24.3%
No. 11: 2.9%
No. 12: 0.1%
No. 13 >0.1%