1. The Hawks Played the Right Way
The NBA has recently put an emphasis on teams not tanking to get a better shot at getting the number one pick in the NBA Draft. They even went as far as changing the lottery odds, to discourage teams from tanking. This has worked to the Atlanta Hawks favor. Under the old lottery format, the Atlanta Hawks would have an 8.8 percent chance to win the lottery this year, with the worse team the New York Knicks, having a 25 percent chance. Now that the NBA has changed the odds, the Hawks have a 10.5 percent chance to win the NBA Draft Lottery, with the Knicks odds being just slightly better at 14 percent. This article from the NBA.com staff gives a full explanation on how the new lottery odds work.
Despite the change in format, many teams were not deterred from blatantly tanking. Teams did everything from shut down players with minor injuries, trading for injured players, sitting veterans and resting rookies for multiple games, in an effort to tank and increase their lottery odds. However the Atlanta Hawks did not participate in that practice. They did not buy out, or trade away veterans except for Jeremy Lin who asked for the opportunity to play for a contender. They also did not sit veterans Kent Bazemore, Vince Carter or Dewayne Dedmon, as long as they were healthy enough to play.
The young Atlanta Hawks played hard and they were competitive all season long. The team lost 20 games by 10 points or less and seven of those losses were by five points or less. The Hawks had a 20 game stretch late in the season, in which they played .500 basketball from February 23 to April 3, before dropping their last three contests. If the Atlanta Hawks did not lose high-flying power forward John Collins for the first 15 games and had sweet shooting small forward Taurean Prince not missed 25 games due to various ailments, the Atlanta Hawks would not be in position to have a good shot at the number one overall pick. In fact the Atlanta Hawks probably would have made the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. The NBA should be rooting for the Atlanta Hawks to win the lottery, to show that not tanking does pay off.