Charles Barkley on Suns: ‘The key is going to be Ayton’

Feb 11, 2023, 12:00 PM
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) dunks against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of an NB...

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) dunks against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Former Phoenix Sun and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley challenged center Deandre Ayton if the Valley wants to bring home the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

After Thursday’s loss against the Atlanta Hawks with much of Phoenix’s starting lineup missing, Ayton was being counted on to have a big game in the first game without Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson as well as Devin Booker sideline for injury management.

Ayton added 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting but posted a season-low two rebounds. This was the second-lowest rebounding total of his career after recording zero rebounds in a game against the Detroit Pistons in 2022.

Barkley said that despite the impending arrival of Kevin Durant, Ayton will be the key for the Suns to win it all.

“To me, the key is going to be Ayton. He only had two rebounds tonight,” Barkley said postgame Thursday.

“He’s got to do the dirty work. He’s not going to get as many touches. He’s got to stay motivated and say, ‘Hey, I am going to do anything I can, I need to get more rebounds because I got to find a way. So I got to help this team by blocking more shots and getting rebounds.'”

The Suns’ big man has been inconsistent as of late, posting two consecutive games with 30-plus points and 15-plus rebounds. He followed up those two performances with the Atlanta game on Thursday.

Ayton was consistently involved in the trade rumors this offseason for Durant, but with the trade deadline coming and going, Ayton and Durant will team up in the Valley on the NBA’s newest rendition of a super team.

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