- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jordan Crawford took a few extra shots after the Washington Wizards held their morning practice session Thursday, like he always does. After two inept offensive performances resulted in losses to the Philadelphia 76ers, a few players questioned whether everyone on the team understands the role they’re supposed to play.

“We’re still trying to figure out what each others’ roles is, who’s going to be the main scorer, who is going to be the secondary scorer,” John Wall said following a 101-94 loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday. “I think when we get that down pat, we’ll be pretty good,” Wall said.

As Crawford left the practice court Thursday morning, he downplayed the team’s offensive woes.

“We just have to keep working on it and try to tune up our individual games,” Crawford said. “That’s what it’s about in the preseason. But I think we’re going to get it together. There’s a lot of new players, rookies, some transition going on, but coach [Flip Saunders] is doing a good job of explaining everything to us and letting us know what we’re capable of.”

Crawford has no doubts about his role. As the Wizards’ starting two guard, his role is to score. But Saunders won’t hesitate to let Crawford know if he starts to overplay it and bury himself in the part.

“How well they play will determine their roles,” Saunders said. “It’s what I determine. They know their roles.

“We’ll define those roles a little more over the coming days. We’ll know who the scoring options are. Guys that can’t shoot, they don’t shoot it. That a pretty easy role. If you’re not a shooter, don’t shoot it.”

The starting job is Crawford’s for now, with Nick Young still not in basketball shape after missing training camp.

“It’s going to be a couple of weeks for him to be able to play and be effective with some of things he does,” Saunders said of Young. “To have total concentration, it’s going to still be a couple of weeks. It’d be tough to ask anybody to come out when guys have been playing, have had eight or nine days of training camps and two-a-days to play at their level.

“I think if you look around the league, offensively, a lot of teams are struggling, trying to fit 28 days into eight, so you’re trying to build up a lot of things.”

Saunders also downplayed any concerns he may have about Wall’s slow start and his offensive struggles, including six assists to 10 turnovers in two games.

“Part of it is we shot 21 percent. It’s tough to get an assist when no one can make a shot,” Saunders said. “He’s been trying to find his rhythm. For him, its always been easier to be a facilitator than to all of a sudden have to shoot it. We just want to make sure he carries that through. In practice, he made a lot of what I call hockey passes - the pass that leads to the pass that leads to the shot.”

On a hopeful note, Andray Blatche also stressed the importance of passing, along with better communication. Perhaps Blatche and Saunders really are on the same page.

“We’ve got to learn to communicate on defense and offense,” Blatche said. “We have to make the extra pass, and we’ve got to stick together.”

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