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Charles Barkley: The Suns ‘pinning themselves in a corner’ with 3-guard system

LISTEN: Charles Barkley- NBA Hall of Famer

A week ago, Phoenix Suns point guard Isaiah Thomas said he thinks “everybody’s getting comfortable with everybody,” and the rotation of point guards is “hitting the stride.”

Former Suns player and current NBA analyst Charles Barkley begs to differ.

Barkley told Arizona Sports 98.7‘s Bickley and Marotta Tuesday he thinks the Suns are “pinning themselves in a corner” with the utilization of three guards.

“I think they have made a mistake,” he said. “I don’t think you can have your two guards with $70 million deals and think your team is going to be competitive.”

He’s referring to Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe — “two terrific guards,” — and said it’s clear the Suns have been struggling all year trying to figure out where to play their third in Isaiah Thomas.

The problem according to Barkley is that all three guards are offensively-minded.

“And they all want the ball,” he said.

The three guards are all Phoenix’s leading scorers and average a combined 57.1 points per game, which is more than half of the Suns’ 107.4 total points per game average (third overall in the league). The Suns also have a 23-15 record when all three guards are healthy and play.

Yet for all that offensive production, with a three-guard rotation the team will always be at a defensive disadvantage, Barkley said. The Suns allow 105.3 points per game (28th in the league).

Barkley said they need bigger guys down low and won’t get to the next level by playing “small ball,” especially in the Western conference.

“You’re not going to beat Memphis, you’re not going to beat Portland, you’re not going to beat Dallas…I don’t like small ball,” he said. “That’s one of my pet peeves.”

And, he added, you can’t pay a good big if you’re paying three point guards.

“You’ve got to pay big guys at some point,” he said.”You’ve got to get some good quality big guys.”