One of the biggest story lines of the NBA preseason thus far has been the play of Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose. Not having played in nearly a year and a half, the former MVP was set to finally make his return to the game — and boy has he ever.
Prior to a preseason matchup with the Indiana Pacers, Rose was interviewed and asked about Indiana’s level of rivalry with the Bulls.
“People say that it’s a rivalry, but I don’t really see it,” Rose said just moments before he dropped 32 points on the Pacers. “I say the team that is more like a rivalry is when Darren Collison was on the team. That one was more like a rivalry, but this team is a great team. They’ve already proven themselves last year by making it to the Eastern Conference finals.
“If anything, by probably in a year or two, it could become a rival. But right now, people say it’s a rival. I just don’t see it right now.”
There was much made regarding Rose’s comments on whether or not the two teams shared a rivalry, but Rose went on and said that the Miami Heat were the team’s biggest rival right now, and why shouldn’t they be?
Indiana figures to have an even better squad than they did last year, but the way Rose has looked in the preseason already should scare the living daylights out of them. The rumors before his return were that Rose had gotten stronger, added to his vertical and improved his jump shot.
Well, thus far he looks just as athletic as he was before getting injured (if not more) and the strength is without a doubt there. As for his jump shot? He’s averaged 53.3 percent from behind the arc and 53.7 percent shooting overall. Per 36 minutes, Rose has averaged 30.1 points, 6.1 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals.
To say it again: The Pacers should be worried. The Bulls are more of a rival to them than they are to the Bulls. The power in the Eastern Conference belongs to Chicago and Miami with Rose back at full health.
Here’s to a season chock full of battles in the East, folks.