Hawks jump to No. 3 overall pick in 2018 NBA draft lottery

The Atlanta Hawks beat the odds and own the No. 3 overall selection in the 2018 NBA draft.

Atlanta entered the draft lottery with the fourth-best odds of winning the No. 1 overall pick at 13.7 percent and held a 42.6 percent chance at landing a top-three pick. (The Hawks’ could fall no lower than seventh overall.) Instead, the Hawks leapfrogged into the draft’s top-three selections and are in prime position to select an elite prospect in a deep draft.

The Hawks now own the Nos. 3, 19 (via Minnesota), 30 (via Houston) and 34 overall picks in the 2018 draft.

The Hawks are making a lottery selection for the first time since 2007. After selecting Al Horford at No. 3 overall, the team rattled off 10 consecutive playoff runs — second only to the San Antonio Spurs during that span — and picked no higher than 15th for a decade.

“Best player available,” Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said earlier this year on his draft plans. “We made the mistake one year in Golden State, and I’ve told this story a couple times to people. The highest draft pick we had in my time there in the front office was the 6th pick in the draft, and we selected Ekpe Udoh. And Ekpe actually plays for the Utah Jazz now. But we selected him because we needed a rim-protecting big so we drafted on more of a need as opposed to the best player. So that was kind of a mistake we made. But you live and you learn so that won’t be a mistake that we make this year.

“We’re going to take the best guy available.”

Aside from drafting Horford, one of the top players in franchise history, and landing a productive Shareef Abdur-Rahim in the 2001 Pau Gasol trade, Atlanta’s lottery track record this century is rather poor. (Marvin Williams turned into a very good NBA player, but he could never erase the franchise whiffing on Chris Paul.) Here’s a breakdown of the remaining lottery picks since 2000 and the top players who were still available on the board.

2000 (No. 6) DerMarr Johnson Hedo Turkoglu, Jamal Crawford, Michael Redd
2004 (No. 6) Josh Childress Andre Igoudala, Luol Deng, Al Jefferson, Kevin Martin
2005 (No. 2) Marvin Williams Chris Paul, Deron Williams
2006 (No. 5) Shelden Williams Paul Millsap, Kyle Lowry, Rajon Rondo, J.J Redick
2007 (No. 11) Acie Law Marc Gasol, Thaddeus Young, Jared Dudley

The Hawks’ brass, including new coach Lloyd Pierce, will be in Chicago for the draft combine this week looking to reverse that recent trend.