CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Atlanta Hawks officially won’t be playing any more basketball during the 2019-20 season.
The league’s Board of Governors approved a format Thursday where 22 teams will go to Orlando to play eight regular season games for seeding and then start the playoffs, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Hawks will not be one of the 22 teams present. The league is slated to resume play July 31.
Per Wojnarowski, the draft lottery is now scheduled for Aug. 25; the draft will take place Oct. 15.
Despite the lack of a clear No. 1 pick, Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman sit atop the class. The lottery order isn’t set, but the Atlanta Hawks currently are the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference.
2019-20 Record and conference standing: 20-47, 14th in the Eastern Conference
Where they might pick: With the NBA’s new draft lottery rules, the Hawks are just outside the top three worst teams in the league. They currently have a 12.5% chance of earning the No. 1 pick and can pick no lower than eighth.
Starters right now: Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, Dewayne Dedmon
Key free agents this summer: Jeff Teague, Treveon Graham
Team Needs: Trae Young needs some help. The Hawks are in a similar position to the Cavs when it comes to their rebuild, as they’ll need to be patient with their young talent. Young, Collins, Huerter, Hunter and Cam Reddish are a young core filled with promise, but with the Hawks recording another sub-.500 season, they should be in stockpile mode.
Grabbing another guard to pair with Young could be helpful, along with selecting a big man who can protect the rim. As one of the top guards in the draft, Anthony Edwards could add athleticism on the wing with his driving ability.
Selecting a lanky rim protector could help the Hawks have some bigger lineups. They have potential to have great lineup flexibility, with Collins being a hybrid forward and Reddish projecting as a player who could at least guard 1-3 for now.
He didn’t play much in college, but James Wiseman has shown he can be one of the best interior defenders in this class. In three games at Memphis, Wiseman totaled nine blocks. Wiseman still has much room to grow offensively, as he primarily lives in the paint. But his athleticism on the defensive end should entice the Hawks, especially if they pick in the top three.
How the Hawks’ needs affect the Cavs: The Cavs don’t need any more help at guard, with Darius Garland and Collin Sexton in place. They could use someone like Wiseman, as they rank last in blocks per game this season. But they would benefit more from a wing player or forward who can perform a multitude of skills.
Isaac Okoro or Deni Avdija are seemingly the best fits for the Cavs. Still, those two players aren’t projected to be top three picks – where the Cavs have a good chance at picking. If the Cavs pick in the top three, they’ll need to go best available. That’s not a bad thing, though. If he’s available, LaMelo Ball could be the Cavs’ best option.
With his passing and court vision, Ball has a chance to be an All-Star guard. The one big knock on him is his defense, however, and that’s an area the Cavs need to improve as well.