It was evident right from the start of the Blue-White game in Las Vegas that Derrick Rose is still one of the best players on the planet.
No one was quite sure how he’d perform right off the bat because his recovery from the meniscus tear hasn’t been nearly as publicized as was his rehab from the ACL tear. But as soon as USABMNT practices started during the past week, all he did was receive extremely high praise from the coaches. And right as the Blue-White game tipped off at 9 p.m. EST, Rose showed his explosion is as good as its ever been and his remarks about being 100 percent confident are absolutely true.
In the first couple minutes of the game, Rose scored two uber-athletic buckets. One a drive to his left where he double-clutched a sweet layup around DeMarcus Cousins. The other a cut to the middle where he was fed the ball for a powerful two-handed slam.
A bit later in the first, Rose was scored on off a back-side cut by Kyrie Irving, but followed it up only seconds later with an end-to-end layup where he blew past everyone.
This is not only exciting for Team USA, but Chicago Bulls fans should be rejoicing everywhere because as long as Rose is healthy, he’s going to be the same player. His speed, agility, leaping ability and overall athletic talent is definitely still there despite two serious knee injuries in the past two-plus years.
Now is this surprising? Not really. No one really expected that he wouldn’t return at full strength, especially with how dedicated he’s been during two recoveries.
The real question is, obviously, how long can he last? When will the next major injury come? Hopefully he never has another serious injury and he’ll enjoy another decade of strong basketball. That’s the ideal outcome, but is it realistic? Probably not.
One key factor in that ideal scenario becoming a reality will be Rose playing smart and picking and choosing when to be aggressive. Not that playing smarter will definitely prevent injury, as his first two injuries weren’t a result him doing something he hasn’t done a thousand times before, but it will help decrease the wear and tear during the season.
During the Blue-White game, it was evident that he was picking and choosing when to be aggressive, which was a good sign. Of course, he doesn’t have to be the man on Team USA with that amount of talent around him, but he only turned on the jets when he needed to and did defer most possessions, playing a more pure point guard role.
On the Bulls, he won’t have that luxury for the whole game as they do have offensive talent around him now, but he’s still by far the best scorer on the team and will need to be aggressive and look for his shot more often. It’ll be all about picking his spots and being careful. Hopefully with the depth at point guard with Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks, he won’t have to be overworked during the regular season.
All this said, it’s all hope and dreams right now, and we’ve only seen him play one game since last November. I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up or my own, but, man, it sure is good to see him play again. It’ll be exciting to watch him suit up in every USA basketball game this summer before training camp and the NBA preseason begins.