When the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls meet on October 5, 2013, it will be the first game back for two important players who sat out all or most of last season. The Bulls’ Derrick Rose was out the entire year, and the Pacers’ Danny Granger was only available for five games. The question is, whose debut is more important?
Rose hasn’t played in a game in 18 months, so I have to believe the consensus among NBA fans will lean towards Rose, and that is understandable. He is a former MVP, a superstar, plays in a big market, and his team held their own without him last season. Everyone wonders what could have been had Rose played the second half of the season, and now they will get to find out.
NBA experts are already calling the Bulls the second-best team in the Eastern Conference just because Rose is set to return. That puts some pressure on Rose to make sure he comes back 100 percent healthy and is able to return to his old ways, but it also adds intrigue to an already exciting Pacers-Bulls matchup.
Granger played in only five games last year after hurting his knee during the preseason. His absence paved the way for Paul George to become the Pacers’ new franchise player, and the NBA was introduced to the potential of Lance Stephenson. The Pacers came within one game of defeating the defending NBA champions, Miami Heat, and heading to their first NBA Finals since 2000.
They accomplished this without Granger, who before the season was arguably their best player; and even though he is returning, the media pundits are still ranking the Pacers lower than the Bulls.
Granger’s return will be evaluated just as heavily as Rose’s, but for some different reasons. The biggest question many have asked is whether Granger and George can coexist now that George has taken over as the leader of the team. There is also the question of whether Granger will even be a starter, since Stephenson filled in nicely for him last year.
Both players are believed to be the missing piece of the puzzle that kept their respective teams from beating the Heat and making a championship run last year. If that is the case, then the Heat will have their hands full in the East, and we could be heading for a revival of the old Pacers-Bulls rivalry from the 1990s.
Whose debut are you more excited for? Let me know in the comments.