Chris Paul quickly became the leader of the Los Angeles Clippers when he was traded in December 2011.

But as far as he's concerned young forward Blake Griffin is the key to the franchise's title hopes.

"Blake is one of those guys where his age has nothing to do with anything" Paul said in a wide-ranging phone interview with this week. "People may say he's a young guy but he's been special in this league he's been an All Star. His voice carries a lot of weight and I think our team will definitely go as Blake goes.

"He's our guy and he's good enough to do so."

Griffin made his third straight All-Star team this 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.

The relationship between Paul and Griffin hasn't always been perfect in their two years as teammates. There have been some differences of opinion in terms of their visions for how the team should be playing.

But after spending a significant amount of time together this summer -- travelling to Asia as part of a tour for Nike's Jordan Brand and filming a national commercial for Footlocker which will be released Tuesday -- Paul says their bond and understanding of each other has deepened.

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