From Odds to Opportunity: A Look into the Hawks' First-Ever NBA Draft Lottery Win

KL Chouinard

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

Up on the stage at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, Hawks General Manager Landry Fields watched as NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum revealed the draft order by opening envelopes in reverse order from the No. 14 pick to the No. 1 pick 

"Once the 10th pick was shown, I knew we had launched into the top four," Fields said afterward, "so everything kind of swirls through your head at that point in time, and you're like, 'OK, we actually have a crack at this thing,' and lo and behold, here we are."

Tatum opened envelopes revealing the Spurs, Rockets and Wizards as the recipients of picks No. 4, 3, and 2, respectively.

The Hawks had won the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery and now hold the rights to the No. 1 pick when the NBA Draft begins on June 26.

Moments earlier, in the room backstage where the ping-pong balls were randomly tossed and selected, Hawks Vice President of Player Personnel Daniel Starkman watched with representatives of the other 13 teams as picks No. 1 through No. 14 were determined in forward order. Byron Spruell, President of League Operations for the NBA, announced the procedural rules. Balls numbered from 1 to 14 went into the machine, and the first ones to come out were the ones to determine the holder of the No. 1 overall pick.  


The Hawks only held 30 of the 1000 unordered combinations for a 3.0 percent chance of winning. 6-10-13-14 was one of them.

After the envelopes were opened, Starkman came out from where he was sequestered to celebrate with Fields.

"He came out and gave me the ping pong balls and everything," Fields said. "He had the world's largest smile on his face, and we had a really nice moment there in front of the stage together."

Fields said that draft preparations began long before Sunday's lottery, and the only thing that has changed is the opportunity gained in picking before any of the other 29 teams.

"Our process for choosing players and bringing them into the building has already begun," he said. "We've been doing it. Our scouts have been extremely hard at work. People have been on the road, I've been on the road. We're prepared for this moment."

Then he added, "We'll get together as a group and continuously beat this thing up every which way to make sure that we're doing right and what's best for the Atlanta Hawks."

Prior to Sunday, the NBA's 40th Lottery, the Hawks had been through the lottery process 14 times. They had never won, finishing 3rd just once in 2007. 

Now they have one win, and they also have one excellent chance to add a foundational piece for their future. 

"It's an exciting day for the Hawks," Fields said. "It's so good for our franchise. It's exciting for us."