Thompson slipped in last year's draft in large part because of his arrest after a game in March 2011 for investigation of marijuana possession. He was suspended for a game and made a public apology before the regular-season finale against UCLA, returning to score a Pac-10 tournament-record 43 points in a loss to Washington.
Others also wondered about his athleticism and quickness.
The lanky guard is not fast or flashy, and questions loomed about how he might get open against quicker NBA guards. As those around the league have quickly learned, Thompson's touch has transitioned just fine, and he's creating open shots that seem so fluid.
Cleveland's Kyrie Irving appears to be a runaway choice for NBA Rookie of the Year, and Minnesota's Ricky Rubio — out for the season with torn ligaments in his left knee — will likely land second. Where Thompson finishes is still to be determined, but it will almost certainly be higher than his 11th spot in the draft.
"Talking to some of the teams' general managers and coaches throughout the season as we traveled around, they come up to me and said, 'If they could redo the draft, he definitely would've been in the top six,'" Mychal Thompson said.
The younger Thompson, while still reserved, has forced himself to open up to some of basketball's best past and present.
He has gained knowledge from the likes of Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Rick Barry this season. Most recently, he went around the arc twice shooting with Warriors Hall of Famer Chris Mullin in his ear a couple weeks ago.
Before a home game against the Lakers last month, Thompson's rise came full circle.
He was shooting on the court about two hours before tipoff, mimicking Bryant almost shot for shot on the other end. The two talked briefly, bumped fists and Bryant gave the Warriors rookie a thumbs-up as he headed through the arena's tunnel and into the Lakers locker room.
Quite a turnaround for a shy kid with a shooter's touch.
Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
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