LA Clippers superstar point guard Chris Paul publicly challenged Blake Griffin to help lead them to the promised land. Griffin says he agrees with his demanding teammate — the forward realizes he must get better in order for the Clippers to take the next step. Per ESPN: “[Paul] has a huge role on this team,’ Griffin said Thursday. ‘He’s been the guy who has closed out a lot of games late for us. But in my mind, this is the year I need to step into that role and really help him shoulder that load. I’ll be right there with him at the end of games, being the guy that he can always count on.’ Griffin, 24, has developed into one of the best power forwards in NBA during his first three seasons, but he has yet to advance past the second round of the playoffs. Griffin made his third straight All-Star team last season, but his season averages in scoring (18.0) and rebounding (8.3) fell off slightly from his career averages (20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds), as he played nearly three fewer minutes per game during the regular season, at 32.5, in an attempt to stay healthier for the playoffs. Griffin’s assists rose to 3.7 per game in 2012-13 from 3.2 in 2011-12, while his steals rose from 0.8 to 1.2 per game over the same period. [...] ‘To be honest, I’m more excited about this upcoming season than I’ve ever been,’ Griffin said. ‘My workouts with [shooting coach] Bob Thate and our coaches have been geared around figuring out how I’m going to be used this season. I’m doing a lot of stuff at the elbow, a lot of shooting. One of the things [new coach Doc Rivers] said to me was, ‘I don’t want you to be afraid to go 0-for-15.’ In other words, just have the mindset of a shooter. And with the work I’ve done this summer, I’m starting to get that confidence and think like a shooter.’ Griffin shot 53.8 percent from the field last season but just 34 percent on shots from 16 to 23 feet, according to Hoopdata.com. He did noticeably improve his shooting from 10-15 feet, from 27 percent in 2011-12 to 40 percent last season. Griffin thinks he still can make much improvement, however, and that when he proves he can hit a face-up jumper, it will change the way defenses play him. ‘We’ve been working on a lot of face-up stuff in the post,’ he said. ‘I’m definitely going to be used differently this year. This summer has been so great for me. I’ve had a completely healthy, full summer to be able to work with our coaching staff, once I got over the ankle thing. This summer has been huge for me, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about next year.’”