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Wizards guards don’t back down at work — or at play

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The three guards stood underneath the basket after the morning session of Day 5 of Wizards training camp Tuesday. They shot baskets, passed the ball and broke into laughter at each other's jokes.

The chemistry and camaraderie among Washington's John Wall, Jordan Crawford and Shelvin Mack already is obvious and building every day.

The three train together, spend time off the court together and, most importantly, have the same competitive mindset.

"Right now, they're competing against each other," said Wizards coach Flip Saunders. "They're playing a lot of point guard, and I think all three of them are in good shape."

The starting backcourt is Wall at point guard and Crawford at shooting guard, with Mack as the primary backup to play either spot. The advantage Saunders has is that all three can play both positions.

"There's no question that for Shelvin, playing against John and his speed and quickness has facilitated his progress as far as being able to initiate an offense and vie for some time at the backup point spot," Saunders said.

Wall and Crawford began developing their chemistry last year, but Mack believes he's fitting in. Mack and Wall also have known each other since college.

"We're working out together each and every day off the court," Mack said. "We hang together off the court and play video games. I think our chemistry is going really well together."

Asked who the best video gamer was, Mack replied, "Myself. Don't tell them, though."

Wall was quick to dispute Mack's claim.

"No, he's not," Wall said. "He hasn't beaten me in Madden yet, or 2K. Ask him about that," Wall joked.

As for their on-court work, Wall said that the three of them have their own mini-shootaround after practice.

"We try to get shots up together just to have that chemistry and talk the whole time," Wall said. "We have fun. In the locker room, we chill."

But while Wall, Crawford and Mack continue working and playing together, the elephant in the room is the status of free agent Nick Young. He was the starting two guard last year until a left knee injury put him on the bench and Crawford in the starting lineup.

Young is a restricted free agent, and the Wizards have given him a qualifying offer of $3.7 million. Young still is weighing his options.

Crawford said he hopes Young returns, but has every intention of challenging Young for the starting spot if he does. As of now, the three guards who are here get better together every day.

"We're seeing each other's weaknesses," Crawford said. "John and Shel have really been pressuring each other bringing the ball up. I think that's going to work in game-time situations. I think coach will decide what's the better matchup on the floor. I'm willing to guard whoever. I'm very confident in my [defense]."

For a player who challenged Kevin Garnett to a fight during a summer-league game and compared himself to Michael Jordan, Crawford is not a player who backs down.

Even when it comes to video games.

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