"I love the Bynum trade for the Sixers," Barkley, who spent eight seasons of his Hall of Fame career in Philadelphia, said earlier this week via phone. "But none of that other stuff matters if he's not dominating. If he's not getting double-teamed, those three-point shooters are not going to be getting those wide-open threes.
"The Sixers are asking him to do something that he has never done before, and it's a tremendous responsibility," Barkley continued. "It all comes down to him being the man for this team every single night. That's something he has never done before. He has to stay healthy and come out and dominate. The jury is still out on that."
Bynum won a pair of championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. Last season, the 24-year-old Bynum's seventh, saw Bynum named second team all-NBA after averaging 18.7 points per game on 55.8 percent shooting with 11.8 rebounds and 1.93 blocks, all among the league leaders in each category.
But this, according to Barkley, was accomplished with cover provided by a Hall of Fame player (Bryant) and another pretty darn good one in Pau Gasol. It was Bryant the Lakers always turned to in their most crucial moments to win games, something that brings pressure that Barkley says is hard to understand until experienced.
"You have seen it happen to other guys who are good players. Joe Johnson is a very good player," Barkley said of the Brooklyn Nets guard. "But when he got traded from Phoenix to Atlanta he wasn't the same guy. You see it with other guys. Amar'e Stoudemire saw it in New York. He got there and eventually he found out that the difference between being a good player and being the man every night is like night and day."
Bynum isn't often given credit for his toughness, but Gasol lauded Bynum's courage and toughness when he played through a torn meniscus and a strained calf in helping the Lakers to the second of Bynum's two titles in 2010.
But Barkley is uncertain whether Bynum is beyond the incidents of petulance that dot his career. If Bynum is going to become a star - and earn the maximum contract that Sixers owner Joshua Harris has at times seemed anxious to bestow on him - he can no longer have situations such as the one in 2011 when he slung Dallas' J.J. Barea to the floor during the Mavericks' playoff sweep of the Lakers. That incident earned him a five-game suspension.
And what of those moments last season when Bynum seemed averse to joining his teammates in huddles during timeouts? Or the ill-advised three-pointers he demonstrated a predilection for, much to the dismay of coach Mike Brown?
That all culminated in the fining of Bynum for "numerous infractions" last April, according to ESPNLA.com. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak summed it up as "a mix of good moments and maybe not-so-good moments. But he's very bright, really intelligent kid."
Youthful indiscretion, perhaps? The Sixers are willing to give Bynum the benefit of the doubt. Barkley? Not so much.
"I don't look at it like that," Barkley said. "You just have to wonder if he is going to be mature enough to handle being the man every night - and that was on a team that had already won some championships. But when you are on a team and you are expected to be the leader, he can't do stuff like that.
"He can't help the team in the dressing room. You have to see what happens when things go bad. If things don't go well, he can't react like that again."
While Barkley described Collins as a "good, heavy-handed coach who is going to coach Andrew and not change" his approach, Collins over the years has developed the ability to deliver his message with more subtlety by way of surrogates, such as associate head coach Michael Curry and assistant Aaron McKie.
"That might be true," Barkley said. "But again, this whole thing depends on Bynum. The whole thing. They brought him in to be a franchise player. He's got to be that."
Contact John N. Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.