Former Phoenix Suns great and league MVP Charles Barkley still lives in the Valley, still watches his Suns on TV when he’s in town, and still gives his hot takes whenever given the chance.
The long time color analyst on TNT has been paid to watch and give his hot takes in ‘Inside the NBA’ for what feels like 50 years now.
We don’t often agree with his takes, do we? Well maybe we often do, except when it comes to his roasting of the Phoenix Suns whenever he gets a chance. He dissed the arena, the nacho cheese, the hot dogs, and dancers... everyone and everything EXCEPT the Phoenix Suns fans. He loves Suns fans.
Further back, he drove the bandwagon that red hot SSOL Suns wouldn’t have enough defense to win a championship.
But then sometimes he says things we can’t help but agree with, like when he said he wanted to just punch Draymond Green in the face during these playoffs.
And he can be endearing. Like when he talks about how he learned to dribble and handle the ball so well because he didn’t have a choice as ”a fat, backup point guard” until he grew from 5’10” to 6’5” in one year.
And when he got to talk to Michael Jackson for the first time. Michael had a quick message to give to Charles, after which Charles went all fanboy for a few minutes until he realized Michael had already hung up. LOL.
Or that time he yelled hard at longtime well-loved referee Dick Bavetta to keep up his bad boy reputation while contesting a call, but admitted he spent the whole time yelling things like “HOW WAS YOUR SUMMER, DICK! DID YOU GO ANYWHERE FUN? SAY HI TO YOUR WIFE FOR ME!”
So you can love Charles or you can hate Charles. I choose to love his personality and his stories, even if I don’t agree with a lot of his takes.
So take his Luka Doncic comments with however many grains of salt you want.
Charles knows who the Suns have to take #1 overall next week in the NBA Draft. He spoke to former Kings (and four other teams‘) forward Scot Pollard who now hosts Planet Pollard, on the Pros Club Podcast Network.
“If you don’t take Deandre Ayton, you’re just an idiot,” Charles said of the Suns choice. “He is scary.”
Chuck went on to talk about the other bigs who came through Phoenix over the past weekend, and said he’d probably take Mohamed Bamba over Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marvin Bagley III.
For reference, Charles says his top three last year were Josh Jackson (“I love that kid”), Jayson Tatum and Dennis Smith Jr.
This year, he’s all about those big men, with Ayton and Bamba at the top.
Pollard, on the other hand, is not in love with Ayton, thinking he’s already topped out his skills and won’t develop any further. Pollard’s favorites are Bagley, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Bamba.
Neither is as high on Doncic as you might expect.
“I don’t trust foreign competition,” Barkley said to Pollard. “They’re like at 18 years old he was the MVP. Well that tells me he was playing against shitty competition. Nobody at 18 should be dominating grown men. I don’t care how bad the grown men are.”
“You go back and look at the NBA. I’ve been in the NBA for over 30 years. There’s only one 18 year old that you can go back and say ‘oh he’s the real deal’. That’s LeBron James. People forget, as great as Kobe Bryant was, he struggled for the first few years. Kevin Garnett struggled his first few years.”
“Let’s get one thing straight. LeBron didn’t even dominate grown men at 18. He fit in, but he didn’t dominate. And he’s one of the greatest ever, ever, ever. But he didn’t dominate right out of the chute.”
This weekly Scot Pollard podcast is awesome by the way. Frickin hilarious, and not always about basketball. The latest episode is definitely not just basketball. I’d love to just hang out with Scot some time. Or all the time.
Back to the Charles episode, which is pure gold by the way, with great takes all over the place by both Charles and Scot. I encourage you to listen.
When Charles talked about Doncic, he may sound outlandish with his dismissal of the Euroleague competition but this gives you insight into what NBA teams are really thinking.
A few weeks ago when ESPN/Draft Express were trying to update their Mock Draft, Jonathan Givony first revealed how few teams would be willing to mortgage their future on Doncic. So Givony dropped Doncic to 4th in the mock, and since then a lot of other “experts” have followed suit.
He had a back-and-forth with ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, who has ranked Doncic far and away the player with the best statistical projection since 2003. Givony said that “Barring a trade, I’d say Doncic being drafted in the top three is no better than 50-50. I’ve felt an increasing disparity the past few months between the public’s bullish perception of Doncic -- which we share -- and what NBA executives say privately.”
I’ve also heard personally — first, second and third hand — that Givony’s intel is not uncommon knowledge. NBA front office execs at the Draft Combine right after the lottery said universally off the record that the Suns would be fools to take anyone but Ayton at the top.
So Charles’ take is not unique. It’s just Charles being Charles, you know, so the way he puts it is quite unique as always.