PHOENIX SUNS

Charles Barkley criticizes Suns’ Deandre Ayton, wants to see more scoring

Jan 26, 2023, 10:20 PM | Updated: Jan 27, 2023, 7:35 am

Suns center Deandre Ayton (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)...

Suns center Deandre Ayton (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

NBA on TNT analyst and Suns legend Charles Barkley wants to see more offensively from Phoenix center Deandre Ayton.

He said Ayton should be scoring 25 points per game at this point of his career during halftime of Phoenix’s matchup with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.

Ayton had a double-double in the opening 24 minutes, but he shot 4-for-12 and was a minus-3. He ultimately went 6-of-20 for 19 points and 20 boards in a 99-94 Suns loss.

“He should be 8-for-12, he missed like four little jumpers,” Barkley said with co-host Shaquille O’Neal in agreement.

“He’s the guy, they paid him that money because they thought he was gonna take the next step. You know how much I love Chris Paul, but he’s 102 years old. It has got to be (Devin) Booker and Ayton. Booker is gonna do his thing. Ayton is the guy. There’s no tall guys for the Mavericks, he should be killing them.”

Booker remained out Thursday with a groin injury, and Barkley referenced the four-year, $133 million contract Ayton signed last offseason, which Phoenix matched after he agreed with the Indiana Pacers.

TNT co-host Kenny Smith said Ayton makes scorer’s money but being a primary option may not be his game, which Barkley scoffed at. Smith felt the Suns need to bring in another option at the Feb. 9 trade deadline to take some pressure off Ayton.

O’Neal went the other way and said that Ayton is not incorporated into the offense enough.

The big man entered Thursday averaging 15.4 field goal attempts per contest over his last 10 with Booker out, up from 12.2 over his first 29 games. The 2018 No. 1 overall pick made 48% of them, though, a low accuracy for a big man. The Suns went 2-8 in those games.

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Charles Barkley criticizes Suns’ Deandre Ayton, wants to see more scoring