Ever wondered what happened to your favorite Phoenix Suns bench warmer or marginal miracle player? This series of articles will revisit some of Suns fans' beloved bench warmers from over the years and track their careers.
Welcome back for part two of our trip down memory lane, as we catch up with some of the most memorable Suns of all time!
This story will focus on guys from the 2010-2011 season, a disappointing season that saw the team miss the playoffs just one season after the team lost a tough Western Conference Finals matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers.
This team was a bit of an odd-ball team. It was the first post-Amer'e team, and showcased the brand new talents of two guys who would go down in Phoenix Suns history: Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick!
All kidding aside, the team saw some important turnover from the previous season. In total, 19 guys would suit up for the Suns in 2010-11. This article will focus on 4 guys who would never suit up for the Suns again and, perhaps not coincidentally, would in fact never suit up in the NBA again (well, one appeared in 12 games for 3 teams over the next two years). We'll be focusing on: Ziggy Dowdell, Earl Barron, Gani Lawal and Garret Siler.
Zabian 'Ziggy' Dowdell, Point Guard
Derek E Hingle, USAToday Sports
Disclaimer: Ziggy Dowdell is by far my favorite marginal Suns player.
Zabian Dowdell was a standout college player at Virginia Tech, where he was a 2007 All ACC 1st Team Member and a member of the All-ACC Defensive Team. For his career with the Hokies, Dowdell averaged 14.5 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game.
After going unexpectedly undrafted in the 2007 NBA draft, Dowdell ended up playing with SLUC Nancy, Pallacanestro Casale and Unicaja Malaga before finally landing with the Suns in January of 2011. In 12 minutes per game, Dowdell put up 5 points and 2 assists, as well as a steal, over 24 games. He was waived to make room for Ronnie Price in the 2011 offseason, at least partly due to knee pain from an undiagnosed source that kept him out of training camp (and would void his next contract, with Anadolu Efes of Turkey, due to his inability to pass a physical).
Dowdell landed with Gran Canaria in 2012, but only appeared in 12 games. The next season, he played with Enisey Krasnoyarsk of the Russian VTB League. With Krasnoyarsk, Dowdell played in 26 games and averaged 12 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal per game.
Last season was perhaps Dowdell's finest as a pro. Playing with Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania, Dowdell appeared in 52 games as a 6th man and defensive specialist. In 18 minutes per game, Dowdell produced 6 points, just under 2 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal per game. His play earned him a spot as a Lithuanian Basketball League All-Star.
Dowdell recently signed with Spirou Charleroi in Belgium, where he will join Americans Justin Hamilton (SG), Eric Wise (F) and Novar Gadson (F).
Earl Barron, Center
Jeff Griffith, USAToday Sports
I kid you not, every photo I can find of Earl Barron in a Suns uniform is embarrassing. There is this one, where he is getting outmuscled by Jameer Nelson, who is literally a foot or more smaller than him. There is a picture of him getting dunked on by Andre Miller, one of him getting sat on by Mike Conley, two of him getting defensively manhandled by Roy Hibbert, and three solo shots of him looking frustrated and confused, as if someone just told him that the entire pictographic history of his time with the team was a collection of gag photos.
Barron has had a long NBA career. Undrafted out of Memphis in 2003, he played a season in Turkey and some time in the Philippines before settling in for a run in the NBA. Before latching on with the Suns, Barron had played three seasons in Miami (winning a championship with the team in 2006), one with the Knicks, and a year abroad playing in Italy.
With the Suns, Barron did little. He appeared in 12 games for the team and started 6. In that time he put up 3 points and 3 rebounds in 15 minutes per game, before being cut by the team midway through the season.
Following his waiving, Barron would wander around the league. He played for both Milwaukee and the Trail Blazers in the remainder of 2011. He appeared in 2 games for the Warriors in 2011-12. And in 2012-13 he appeared in games for both the Wizards and the Knicks.
In 2013-14, after failing to receive any training camp invites, Barron signed on to play for the Chinese team Qingdao (no stats were available for his time with this team). He left the team for unspecified reasons, and would end up signing on to play for a small team in Lebanon in February, joining up with fellow former NBA center Hassan Whiteside.
Gani Lawal, Forward
Anne Marie Sorvin, USAToday Sports
Gani Lawal has a sad story. A product of Georgia Tech, Lawal was a fairly productive college played who averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds a game for his career and was named third team All-ACC in 2009. He left school a year early and was drafted by the Suns 46th overall in 2010. That was more or less the highlight of his time with the team.
Lawal spent 10 games with the Iowa Energy to start off the season, averaging 11 points, 6 rebounds and a block in 20 minutes per game, which was enough for the Suns to recall him to rejoin the team. He appeared in just one game, playing 2 minutes, before tearing his ACL and missing the remainder of the season on January 2nd. (To add insult to injury, his one and only recorded NBA stat was a personal foul...)
During the lockout the next season, Lawal decided to sign a binding contract with Polish club Zastal, which would force him to miss the entirety of the 2011-12 season. The Suns waived him before the season started as a result.
Lawal's career since then is a whirlwind of different teams and near returns to the NBA. His time in the Polish League was rather limited: he appeared in just 13 games, putting up 14 points and 10 rebounds per game, before departing the team for unspecified reasons, with both parties agreeing to void his contract. At the start of the 2011 NBA season, Lawal was brought in for a 10 day workout contract by the San Antonio spurs, but was cut. Lawal then moved to China, replacing Kenyon Martin for the Xinjiang team; in this role he performed relatively well, appearing in 17 games and producing 18 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Lawal spent the entirety of 2012-13 with Virtus Roma, a relatively strong team in the Euroleague competition. He started 45 games for the team, averaging 13.5 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes per game.
Following this run in Europe, Lawal garnered interest from a number of NBA teams, including the Pacers, Raptors and Magic at the start of the 2013 season. The Knicks also expressed a strong interest. Lawal, however, chose to reject all 2013 Summer League invitations, and never ended up being offered a contract by any team; the last roster spot he was in contention for was the 5th big off the bench position for the New York Knicks, a position that would end up being filled by Cole Aldrich (a day of almost holy connotation for our friend Bryan Gibberman).
This past season, Lawal played for Olimpia Milano (the team who just recently signed former NBA journeyman MarShon Brooks). In 68 games with the team, he played a bench role, averaging 14 minutes, 7 points and 4 rebounds per game.
(Quick Historical Aside: The Phoenix Sun in the background of Lawal's photo is Matt Janning - a training camp invitee who was cut and eventually replaced, jersey number and all, by Ziggy Dowdell in 2010-11. Janning was a small school guy out of Northeastern who got an invite after impressing in the Summer League for both us and Boston. He wound up going over to Europe, where he has been a relatively high quality player and three point specialist, helping lead Siena to an Italian League championship and playing for Cibona Zagreb. He will play next season for Anadolu Efes in the Turkish League).
Garrett Siler, Center
Anne Marie Sorvin, USAToday Sports
The infamous 'Silo' was, if not a fan favorite, than at least a staple in fan discussion during his time with the Suns. Undrafted out of Augusta State, the 6'11 over 300 pound center roamed around a bit, playing in the CBA as well as the NBA Summer League for a while before finally being given a contract by the Phoenix Suns in 2010.
Siler was always a mountain of a man - and the Suns were concerned enough about him becoming too mountainous that a weight clause was inserted into his two year contract. During his time with the Suns, Siler was pretty unspectacular, playing in just 101 cumulative minutes over the course of the season and putting up total season stats of 48 points, 25 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Siler was ostensibly on the roster to start the 2011-12 season, but was cut on January 2nd, 2012 before he even played a game.
After being cut, Siler joined Leones de Ponce of the Puerto Rican BSN, where he average 14 points and 9 rebounds over 11 games. Almost immediately following his departure from that team, Siler returned to China, where he joined the Jiangsu Dragons. For the CBA season, Siler put up 18 points, 11 boards and 2 blocks per game, on just under 73% shooting.
In 2013-14, Siler played for 3 different teams. He started the season off with the Leones de Ponce, where he played in 16 very unspectacular games before being waived and and picked up by Capitanes de Arecibo. His play didn't improve (his shooting stroke was gone all season, and he averaged less than 43% shooting for the season), though he appeared in the remaining 35 games for the season. He also played with the Jiangsu Dragons again in 2014, but was cut at some point in the season after appearing in just 9 games.
Siler maintains a relatively well updated website, where interested parties can check out the latest updates on his career, his charitable activities, and his personal life.