Among the things we’ve been hearing about non-stop from everyone involved in the Team USA preparation to the World Basketball Championships is how good Derrick Rose has been coming back from yet another season long injury. Well, the same things were said last year and we all know how that turned out, so maybe some caution in the word selection should be used by everyone, from the players to the coaching staff.
Both Mike Krzyzewski who has coached Rose under the USA flag in the 2010 championships and Tom Thibodeau, his head coach with the Chicago Bulls, have been raving, praising, and admiring Rose’s ability so far in training camp, with other players like Andre Drummond stating that Rose is a level above everyone else. He seems to be one of the five players, along with Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, James Harden and Stephen Curry, who are already considered to be among the final 12 who’ll travel to Spain.
We heard the same things about Rose last year. About how he hasn’t lost his speed during his long hiatus from the game. About how he’s better than before. About how he is playing at the same level of his MVP season in 2010-2011. Well, words only carry you so far. It wasn’t just the injury to his MCL that made 2014 a rough year for Rose. His “Return” and comeback attempt didn’t go as planned.
Maybe Rose didn’t change his game, but it seemed everything around him did change. In the 10 games he did play in, averaging 31.1 minutes a night, Rose was rusty, inaccurate and slow in his decision making. Maybe his power and quickness were there, but his mind needed more time to adapt to the “new” NBA he was seeing around him, averaging 15.9 points and 4.3 assists while turning the ball over 3.4 times a game and shooting 35.4% from the field, which didn’t really make him stop taking bad shots.
It’s hard to discredit someone like Coach K or Thibs. These guys know basketball, and if they say Derrick Rose is looking good, they probably mean it to a certain extent. But how much of it is hype, and how much of it is actually him playing like one of the best point guards in the NBA? It’s important to give a player coming back from injury the confidence he needs to find his footing again, but when is it too much?
The key player to this Team USA campaign will once again be Kevin Durant. The Chicago Bulls will be happy to see Rose shedding off his rust through international basketball and coming ready for the preseason with less basketball problems than before, but there’s probably a lesser sense of optimism compared to last season, when it seemed that the return of Rose immediately made the Bulls the number one title contenders in the Eastern conference.