For two years, we have waited for Derrick Rose.
There have been glimpses of his return from injury. Pregame workouts in sweats, but barely anything wearing that familiar Bulls jersey. His 10-game cameo last year showed he was still trying to gain confidence at game speed. A torn meniscus stopped that process before it could really get started.
There is no doubt though that a healthy Derrick Rose changes the Bulls and, really, changes the entire Eastern Conference. Rose has been working out mostly privately in this recovery and there have only been rumors of how things are going.
This week at the Team USA training camp in Las Vegas, it was finally time for everyone to see just how far Rose is coming along. And . . . well, he is tentatively back to being the MVP winner from 2011.
Mike Krzyzewski, Team USA’s head coach, said Rose looks better than he did four years ago when he averaged 7.2 points per game and 3.2 assists per game in the US’s gold medal run. And that is scary because that was his prelude to winning MVP of the league.
His own coach, and Team USA assistant, Tom Thibodeau was extremely impressed with how Rose looked. He said Rose had the same speed and explosion. Thibodeau, more than anyone, would be able to make that comparison. He likely has seen Rose working behind the scenes.
Go ahead and judge for yourself:
Having Derrick Rose back is very welcome and good news for the NBA. First, he is bringing back the 1980s haircut back. Always a fan of that. Second, Rose is a fantastic talent who seemed to have his whole career and path in front of him.
Injuries have robbed him of that. After missing the majority of two years, it is hard to tell whether Rose can regain his form in the NBA, despite all reports that Rose looks back to his old self in Las Vegas for Team USA training camp.
There have been so many false starts and near misses when it comes to Rose’s return. Adidas is not planning a major marketing program this time around. There is a lot of lost faith and disbelief until Rose actually hits the floor.
And in his time last year — albeit those short 10 games — Rose looked OK. He averaged 15.9 points and 4.3 assists per game, numbers slightly lower than his career averages and peak averages. It was clear he was still feeling his way onto the court and getting comfortable. That discomfort might very well have led to the knee injury that knocked him out last season.
For Rose, it is not about the health of his knee but rather about his comfort on the floor. Can he regain that confidence again?
Team USA would be putting a big risk in centering its offense around him this time if he does not have that confidence.
Right now, they appear to have confidence that he is ready for the job and ready for the responsibility. If Rose tears it up in Spain, the NBA could be in trouble for his return.