Blake Griffin accepts challenge to step up

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin may not agree on some things, but one thing they can both say is that the Los Angeles Clippers will be a different team this year and this change will start with Griffin.

A little over a week ago, Paul spoke with ESPN LA regarding Griffin, saying that the team “will go as Blake goes.” He may or may not have meant it as a challenge, but however he meant it, Griffin confirms and vows to be better.

“This year I need to step into that role and really help him shoulder [the] load,” Griffin, 24, said in an interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com Thursday. “I’ll be right there with him at the end of games, being the guy that he can always count on.”

Other than resting his sprained ankle for a month after the end of the Clippers’ season, Griffin has been living up to that promise this summer. He has been working with his shooting coach, Bob Thate, to perfect some parts of his game while learning how to develop other parts.

“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 0-15,'” he said. “In other words, 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.”

Shooting is one area of Griffin’s game that has been in question before. Previously, 54 percent from the field, but only 34 percent from further away. There were times when he struggled to get to the basket and could not get as aggressive as he should have been with face-up shots.

“We’ve been working on a lot of face-up stuff in the post,” Griffin said. “I’m definitely going to be used differently this year.”

Paul and Griffin spent a good portion of the summer together, going overseas to China and filming a new Foot Locker commercial. This time allowed them to get a different understanding of each other, which will hopefully translate on the court.

“It’s been a great summer for us,” Paul said. “I think we’ve both had an opportunity to grow. As you get older, you realize it’s all about winning and I think we both realize we need each other in order to do that.”

This has been an explosive team in the past and with both players’ improvement, not to mention their new additions over the summer (head coach Doc Rivers and sharp shooter J.J. Redick), a deep playoff run seems fully within their reach.

 

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Categories: basketball, Los Angeles Clippers, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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