The casual NBA fan might have forgotten that Derrick Rose actually played for the Chicago Bulls last season. That’s as much due to the brevity of his comeback as its quality. Rose played just 10 games in 2013-2014 before tearing the meniscus in his right knee, and was a shell of his former MVP-winning self when he was actually on the floor. He shot a putrid 35.4 percent from the field and registered a measly 9.82 player efficiency rating last season, the latter numbers over 13 points below the high standards he set in both 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.
Hoping to make his return to the court in 2014-2015 both longer and more successful than last year’s, Rose is taking a different approach this time around. And while Team USA coaches and players were blown away in training camp by the renewed speed and explosion that originally propelled Rose to superstardom three years ago, he still says his game will look far different today than it did back then.
ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell has more on the adjustments Rose is making in his latest comeback.
“My game is totally different,” Rose said. “When I came back last time, I was just trying to get in a groove. I think I felt a nice little groove. My confidence is high right now, and I think even playing in the game [Saturday] you’ll be able to see by the way that I attack the players defensively. And by the way I play offensively, just not rushing anything and just taking my time on pick and rolls and just letting the play develop.”
Rose has admitted to pressing during his brief time on the floor last season, shouldering more burden than for which he was ready in an effort to help his team. Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau noticed that issue, and says his star point guard’s current path to basketball redemption is one far less rocky.
“I think he’s improving,” said Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, an assistant coach with Team USA. “I think his approach is a lot better. I think he was so anxious last year to come back, he was almost forcing things. I think he has a much better understanding now. Show more patience, find the rhythm of the game, go out there run the team.
“What he’s done a very good job of is shooting when he should shoot. He’s passing when he should pass. He’s playing great defense. And he’s doing a lot of things well. But he’s not forcing anything, and I think that’s important.”
As aggressive and relentless as Rose is at his best when healthy, he still rarely forces the issue. Players with his natural gifts can make something more out of something less whenever they so choose, and Rose effectively picked his spots that way before his first major health setback in April 2012.
His plan of attack was different last season. Rose didn’t let the game come to him, instead often going out of his way to prove he was the player we’d all grown accustomed to watching. But his comfort and timing was off, leading to wild shots and awkward team offense that contributed to his wholesale struggles.
With new perspective in place, Rose is ensuring this return will be unlike his last one. So if he lags behind sky-high expectations in the early going come November, don’t expect it to last. Rose will just be taking his time until he’s fully ready to resume his MVP-level play of the past.
Is Rose a legitimate MVP candidate this season?
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