The all-time Phoenix Suns garbage time lineup

Posted by on September 25th, 3:45 pm

By now you’ve seen Valley of the Suns founder Michael Schwartz’s choices for an all-time Suns starting five, and in particular players from the 1990s-today. Receiving far less publicity, however, are the last men on the bench. These players have been equally important to providing long-tortured Suns fans with emotional highs and lows over the last 20 years.

The benchwarmers, still among the best ballers in the world, often wait until the game is far out of reach to see a piece of the action, and typically resort to padding their own statistics in their few precious minutes on the court.

Fans cheer them derisively, and the refs allow them to travel, double dribble and generally bring shame to the NBA-level of play, simply in the name of finishing the game. There are some 12th men, however, that win over the fans with their style, hustle and general lack of competence.

Without further ado, I present you with the Suns’ all-time 12th man team:

Starters:

PG Negele Knight: Knight’s four-year run with the Suns was notable for the teammates that always managed to snag the primary backup point guard role from his grasp. You’d think that playing behind the electrifying but often-injured Kevin Johnson would have been a sweet gig for a backup NBA playmaker, but Knight couldn’t keep control of the job, ceding playing time to the likes of Frank Johnson, Elliot Perry and Duane Cooper. To his credit, Knight was active in giving back to the Suns faithful, and was once scored on by this author (then an 8-year-old) at the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center Basketball Camp. Nothing says Hoop Dreams like nice Jewish boys and girls balling with the Suns’ out of shape 12th man.

You Can Do It Put Your Back Into it: 1990-91

Age G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS

23 64 6 12.4 2.0 4.8 .425 0.1 0.4 .240 1.1 1.8 .602 0.3 0.8 1.1 3.0 0.3 0.1 1.2 1.3 5.3

SG Eric Piatkowski: The long-range specialist joined the Suns past his heyday after serving as a sharpshooter for some of the worst Clippers teams of the Donald Sterling era. His role on the team was to provide an extra body in practice, make mop-up appearances and play in specific game situations where his three-point shooting could be called upon. The problem was that aside from shooting wide open threes, Piatkowski was an abomination of an NBA player. Name another NBAer with a higher three point field goal percentage than overall shooting percentage in multiple seasons. Piatkowski took his AARP-ready game to the rec leagues following the 2007-08 season.

It Depends: 2007-08

Age G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS

37 16 0 7.1 0.8 2.1 .364 0.7 1.6 .423 0.3 0.3 1.000 0.1 0.7 0.8 0.6 0.0 0.1 0.4 0.7 2.4

SF Jerrod Mustaf: One half of the best 12th man tag team of all time (with Negele Knight), Mustaf offered the Suns organization almost nothing during his three-year tenure (1991-94) aside from unwanted publicity due to tawdry allegations in the local newspaper. Mustaf’s inability to produce — even as a member of the Best Suns Team Ever in 1992-93 — speaks volumes when a cocaine addict, Richard Dumas, was able to hold it together and contribute.

Ineptus Maximus: 1992-93

Age G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS

23 32 9 10.5 1.8 4.1 .438 0.0 0.0 .000 1.0 1.7 .623 0.9 1.7 2.6 0.3 0.5 0.3 0.7 1.3 4.6

PF Pat Burke: Big Men Also Cry. Big men, Mr. Lebowski, also cry. Burke was an insightful and sensitive Irishman known to chuck three-pointers in the general direction of the rim during garbage time. The issue is that he often did so at the behest of fans who would scream, chant and cheer for Burke to shoot only from beyond the arc. Burke decided to trash his enthusiastic fanbase through the media, offering that he was more than just a long-range circus freak. Unfortunately his rebounding, defense and general athletic ability didn’t support that claim, and he was soon out of the league.

Forecast? Temper Tantrums: 2006-07

Age G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS

33 23 0 7.1 1.0 2.8 .354 0.3 1.0 .273 0.3 0.6 .615 0.5 1.5 2.0 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.8 2.6

C Danny Schayes: His father, Dolph Schayes, was an NBA legend and Hall of Famer. The similarities end there. Schayes and battery mate Joe Kleine combined to form one of the most ineffective center duos of the mid-90s, rivaled perhaps only by Bulls’ Bill Wennington/Will Perdue combo. Center is the one position where the Suns have been especially blessed with lackluster talent. Their most talented true centers of the past 20 years? Shaq, Robin Lopez and Oliver Miller. Seriously. The list of Suns centers reads like graveyard of unathletic big men: Joe Kleine, Danny Schayes, Luc Longley, John “Hot Rod” Williams, Tim Kempton, 40-year old Mark West, Chris Dudley, Horacio Llamas and the immortal Scott Williams.

Father Knows Best: 1994-95

Age G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS

35 69 27 11.9 1.8 3.6 .508 0.0 0.0 1.000 0.7 1.0 .725 0.8 2.2 3.0 1.3 0.3 0.5 0.9 2.5 4.4

Bench

G Elliot Perry

G Yuta Tabuse

F Corie Blount

F Louis Amundson (started out as a 12th man)

F Paul Shirley (may have had the most success of any garbage-time player in history due to his writing skills)

C Joe Kleine

C Bo Outlaw

Now that, Suns fans, is enough to wish for a Garbage Time Old Timers Game this upcoming season.

Guest writer Jason Zaler, a native Phoenician currently living in California, is a lifelong Suns fan who takes credit for the firing of Terry Porter. While attending a Suns/Sixers game in Philadelphia in 2008, Zaler started a ‘FIRE PORTER’ chant at Wachovia Center and subsequently called in to Suns flagship station KTAR from the Delaware Turnpike, demanding Porter’s dismissal. It happened a short time later.

Jason Zaler

Tags: Bench · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 suns68 // Sep 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Sorry to tell you this, but you've missed our greatest 12th man ever.

    Pat Riley.

    He played one year in a Suns uniform – deep on the bench and his last year as a player – on the '75-'76 team that went to the finals behind Paul Westphal and Alvan Adams. (BTW, this team gets my vote as our best ever, but that's an argument for another time.)

    After the Suns lost the title to Boston, Riley retired and did some other stuff around the NBA.

    I'm fairly certain he's the only Suns 12th man in the Hall of Fame.

  • 2 stevo // Sep 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    i dissagree about negele that neck injury changed him,and dannyt schayes was an important part of the rotation the year he was here.

  • 3 ChocolateMilk // Sep 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    I disagree about Knight as well. Once upon a time early in his career, he was a commodity in the league. In their 92-93 march to the Finals, Knight started 35 games and the Suns went 27-8. Where’s Alex Stivrins? Stefano Rusconi?

  • 4 Red // Sep 25, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Dexter Boney
    Brooks Thompson

    Amundson surely is OK… great heart!

  • 5 Al // Sep 26, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Who's Pat Riley?…

  • 6 ross // Sep 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    WE WANT PAT WE WANT PAT…burke that is

  • 7 Kevin // Sep 27, 2010 at 6:59 am

    I would have thought Yuta Tabuse would be on this list, considering all the hype he had around him.

  • 8 Anon // Sep 28, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Chris Carr
    Toby Bailey
    Alvin Sims
    Horacio Llamas
    Alton Ford
    Mario Bennett
    Malcolm Mackey

  • 9 Willi from Germany // Sep 29, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Where’s Barbosa?

  • 10 JR Sanchis // Oct 17, 2013 at 4:49 am

    I disagree with Negele Kinght, Good bench pointguard but I had several injuries.

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