Across the NBA, the difference between elite teams, fringe playoff rosters and squads bound for the NBA draft lottery lies with each's franchise centerpiece, or in other words, their alpha dog.
If an NBA team’s best player doesn’t have the capacity to carry a supporting cast to a championship, then they must find a new franchise centerpiece in order to chase the Larry O’Brien trophy.
In August of last year, I wrote an article that invented the “alpha dog test.” In a nutshell, this test acts as an assessment of each NBA team’s best player and decides whether or not a team could win a championship with “Player X” running the show.
The decision is based on a player’s past accomplishments (team and individual), their leadership qualities, their potential future as a bona fide NBA star, as well as their overall alpha dog status.
Ultimately, the main question that needs to be answered is, “Can you win an NBA championship with this guy as your best player?”
Note: In some cases, rebuilding teams like the Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic, do not have an unquestioned “alpha dog” on their roster.
Because of this, I’ll point out which teams don’t have a franchise centerpiece and use my best judgment to decide who has responsibility of assuming the alpha dog role until a legitimate centerpiece is added.