NBA draft lottery watch: Hawks move up (down) in projected standings

(Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Before the start of the NBA season, FiveThirtyEight.com’s statistical projection predicted that the Hawks would win 26 games, fewest in the league. Then Bulls forward Bobby Portis fought teammate Nikola Mirotic, knocking out two rotation bigs with one punch, and FiveThirtyEight adjusted its numbers:

 

 

The stakes are high in the race to the worst record and thus the best odds in the NBA Draft lottery. After this season, the odds of the team with the worst record winning the lottery decrease dramatically. Here is a look at the bottom five teams in the latest FiveThirtyEight.com projection, starting with the worst team first:

1. Bulls (0-3; 24-58 projected FiveThirtyEight record)

So far: They opened the season with three straight losses against good teams: at Raptors, vs. Spurs and at Cavs. Their average point differential of 11.3 is second-worst in the East behind the Knicks (-15.3).

Significant injuries: Mirotic is expected to miss at least another month because of a concussion sustained in the fight with Portis. Portis is out another five games because of a suspension for that fight.

Up next: vs. Hawks (1-3) tonight, vs. Oklahoma City (2-2) Saturday., at Miami (2-2) Wednesday.

2. Kings (1-3; 25-57 projected FiveThirtyEight record)

So far: The Kings, like the Hawks, are 1-3 with a win at Dallas. Also like the Hawks, the Kings are taking solace in a good start by their top rookie. Writes Jonathan Roberts at A Royal Pain: (De’Aron) Fox has an offensive rating of 105.7 and a usage rate of 26.8 which is highest on the team (min. 4 games).” The Kings also got their other first-round pick, Bogdan Bogdanovic, back from injury.

Significant injuries: None.

Up next: vs. Pelicans (1-3) tonight, vs. Wizards (3-1) Sunday, at Pacers (2-3) Tuesday, at Celtics (2-2) Wednesday.

3. Hawks (1-3; 26-56 projected FiveThirtyEight record)

So far: The Hawks have been reasonably competitive as the schedule and injuries take their toll. They are the only team in the league that has yet to play a home game.

Significant injuries: Dennis Schroder will miss his second game tonight and says he probably will return tomorrow in the home opener.

Up next: at Bulls (0-3) tonight, vs. Nuggets (1-3) Friday, vs. Bucks (3-1) Sunday, at 76ers (1-4) Wednesday

4. Mavericks (1-4; 27-55 FiveThirtyEight projected record)

So far: FiveThirtyEight already has shaved three victories from its preseason projection for the Mavs after they lost to two bad teams (Hawks and Kings) and were blasted by two good foes (Rockets and Warriors). The Mavs got their first W last night vs. the Grizzlies.

Significant injuries: Seth Curry has been on the shelf since the preseason but could return next week.

Up next: at Grizzlies (3-1) tonight, vs. Sixers (1-4) Saturday, at Jazz (2-3) Monday, at Clippers (3-0) Wednesday

5. Knicks (0-3; 28-54 FiveThirtyEight projected record)

So far: After the Knicks were blown out by the Celtics on Tuesday, Courtney Lee said players don’t know the plays because they aren’t paying attention. Also, ex-Hawk Tim Hardaway Jr. is off to an awful start after signing that $71 million contract.

Significant injuries: Joakim Noah is serving a 20-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug program.

Up next:  vs. Nets (3-2) Friday, at Cavs (3-2) Sunday, vs. Nuggets (1-3) Monday, vs. Rockets (4-1) Wednesday

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