Charles Barkley: Bradley Beal coming off bench highlights Suns’ needs to win in playoffs

Feb 5, 2024, 11:21 AM

Charles Barkley believes that Bradley Beal needs to come off the bench and that the Phoenix Suns need a few more role players to be considered a championship contender.

“The jury’s still out. I think you have to look at the big picture and say, OK, are we on the same level as the Clippers and Nuggets? That’s a hard ‘no’ right now, ” Barkley told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Monday. “In my opinion, the Clippers are the team to beat, and the Nuggets are right behind them.”

Should Bradley Beal come off the Suns bench?

Barkley’s first order of business was to address the Big Three situation of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Beal. The three players have only played 15 out of the 50 games this season together, and he thinks Phoenix can do more to maximize its potential.

“I would love to see them bring Bradley Beal off the bench,” Barkley said. It’s tough for all three guys to do what they do best when they’re all on the court together — they kind of do my turn, your turn type thing.”

Beal coming off the bench would free up Durant and Booker to run the floor in the starting lineup. With both players averaging more than 27 points per game, there is only so much basketball to go around.

“They have three nuclear weapons out there,” Barkley said, referring to the Big Three. “It’s really nice to have, but it doesn’t work when all three of the players are out there.”

Beal coming off the bench would, in theory, give Phoenix “instant offense” the moment either Booker or Durant left the floor, according to Barkley.

Barkley isn’t opposed to having the Big Three all be on the floor in the fourth quarter when a team would want their best players on the court, but playing them together all game would do more harm than good.

“I don’t think you can play them the whole game together because they would play too slow,” Barkley said.

A serviceable point guard, and another big guy

In Barkley’s hypothetical situation, Beal would not be in the starting lineup, so he wants the Suns to get a serviceable point guard.

“They have a really difficult time because Beal and Booker aren’t really point guards,” Barkley said. “When they get into the playoffs, other teams are going to make them take the ball up and down the court and use up the shot clock so they’ll get into offense late, and then they’ll be rushing.”

A pure point guard would help Phoenix’s offense in two ways. First, speed up the offense and push the pace. Second, the point guard wouldn’t be asked to shoot the ball much so that gives Booker and Durant more volume.

“They need a big guy who’s active and can shoot a little bit,” Barkley said. “You need a guy like Mark West, who was the perfect teammate. ‘I’m going to just play defense and rebound the ball.’ … That’s a guy who’s a good player, who’s not going to get any shots more than likely, but all he’s got to do is all the dirty work. And that’s a really important thing to have on the team.”

Barkley believes that the only reason the Phoenix teams of the past few years weren’t unbeatable was because of Ayton and his attitude toward the game.

“Ayton was in a perfect situation, he was a big, athletic dude. All he had to do was defend and rebound, and the Suns would have been unbeatable,” Barkley said. “Ayton didn’t want to do that so that’s why he’s up in Portland stinking up the joint. This would have been a perfect scenario for him.”

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Charles Barkley: Bradley Beal coming off bench highlights Suns’ needs to win in playoffs