Doncic's elevation within the Hawks organization reflects a leaguewide belief that Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III could go 1-2 to Phoenix and Sacramento, respectively, to open the draft, league sources said.
If the Kings pass on Bagley, that would clearly complicate the Hawks' ultimate choice with the third pick.
Doncic started to separate himself in organizational discussions around the choice, an examination that has included a tremendous intrigue with Jaren Jackson Jr., league sources said.
Atlanta remains a target of multiple teams trying to move up in the draft, including Dallas, which also has been focused on selecting Doncic, league sources said.
Rival teams say that Atlanta general manager Travis Schlenk has been willing to engage in talks about dropping out of the third spot and moving down to draft later in the first round, league executives said.
The Hawks have three picks in the first round -- Nos. 3, 19 and 30. The 19th and 30th picks have been included in discussions to move up and select another player in the draft lottery, league sources said.
The 19-year-old Doncic, the youngest EuroLeague MVP ever, capped a historic season for Real Madrid with a championship series victory in the ACB League in Spain. Doncic, a playmaking 6-foot-8 guard, is one of the most accomplished European prospects ever to enter in the NBA.