The most special game for Derrick Rose in his return to the NBA and the Chicago Bulls was playing at the United Center for the first time since tearing his ACL 18 months ago. From his short yet excellent appearance, it was worth the wait.

Rose finished with 22 points in 22 minutes, including some impressive layups and other high-risk, high-reward plays, which make it seem like he hasn’t really missed a step since the injury in the playoffs against the 76ers. With or without him, the Bulls were too much for the Detroit Pistons, winning 96-81.

I think I’m past that, jitters and everything. For me, it’s just going out there and trying to compete and try to do better as a teammate and as a leader. I was just trying to really be aggressive. If that’s a sign for what’s to come, I hope so. For me, I was just trying to do anything to get to the basket.

Rose took the night off in the previous preseason game for the Chicago Bulls, citing a knee injury. He wasn’t really hurt, but even the slightest sign of pain calls for an immediate shut down, as the Bulls don’t want their prized possession taking a step back in his attempt not just to get back to the NBA, but be a dominant point guard right from the get go. From what we’ve been seeing from him so far, he’s certainly on the right track.

We are starting to see him find his rhythm. The moves, the explosion, the power, the change in directions … that’s been there all along. Now, he has better balance and is playing in rhythm.

Rose has been in full throttle mode from the first preseason games, while his teammates, despite the 4-0 record so far, found it hard to adjust. Now, things are looking better and better. Rose is constantly attacking the basket, but he isn’t trying to run all the time, mixing in some half court possessions that look like a point guard trying to create from the perimeter, not just by driving to the paint.

Derrick Rose

Tom Thibodeau isn’t the greatest offensive coach in the world; his specialties lie elsewhere. Rose coming back like nothing has changed these past 18 months is the best piece of news he could have come up with from this preseason, especially as the other pieces around him – Jimmy Butler in the back court, Luol Deng ignoring the contract situation look like they’re ready to once again play like they’re contending for the NBA title.

Rose will have to get back to that place he was during the healthy parts of the 2012 season – still the most dangerous point guard in the NBA when driving to the basket, but also someone who knows that’s it’s not only about slashing and driving, and focuses a lot more on being a leader and ball distributor on the floor when the Bulls need him to be one.