Andrew Bynum 2.0

How did the injured center get so good, so fast, earlier this year?

His mentor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, tells NBA.com's John Hareas that Bynum could always play, but this year he gained confidence:

It really had to do with the fact that all of a sudden he had confidence in what he could do. He had the ability to do the things he was doing probably as much as a year earlier, but he didn't have confidence.

He didn't want to embarrass himself. That kind of set him back. He was kind of reticent to go out there and play the way he can play.

But all of a sudden he saw that things were working for him, he got a little bit more aggressive and kept getting better and better results.

If you hear David Thorpe tell it, this could be a common story.

He believes there are many players in the NBA who -- more than simply adding skills, or working harder -- really need loving support from their mentors, to gain the kind of confidence that unlocks their abilities.