So far Derrick Rose looks back athletically. His movement looks explosive, he certainly looks like he's playing without fear. It's difficult to say whether he's lost 2% or 3% of his speed, but he certainly doesn't appear to have lost 10% or 20% or an amount which should have a considerable impact on his game.
Now the question is how long will it take him to regain the rest of his form. Some will say Rose has only played in the NBA 10 games in the past two years. A true statement, however this is also true:
1: He practiced with the team for about three months in 2013 at the end of the season.
2: He had a normal 2013 off-season in terms of workouts
3: He had a normal 2013 training camp, played eight preseason games
4: He played 10 games in 2013
5: He practiced for at least a week or so at the end of 2014.
6: He had a normal 2014 off-season
7: He practiced with team USA / played in FIBA for six weeks or so
8: He (so far) is having a normal 2014 training camp.
The point is while Derrick Rose hasn't been on the NBA court a whole lot in the past two seasons, it's not a complete picture to pretend he's just been gone for that period of time. He's still had a significant chance to hone his skill against NBA level players in organized basketball situations for an extended period of time.
He certainly has had a ton of time to work on his shot. If anything, you'd expect his set shot to be outstanding given the types of things he's been able to do even if he struggled with the mid range step backs or shots of screens.
So far we haven't seen that. He struggled with his shot in FIBA play, and he's just 1/5 on jumpers so far in limited action during two preseason games.
His preseason so far is starting to look somewhat similar to his preseason in 2014. He looked good athletically there, but we didn't see him hit many jumpers. When he started playing in real games, his efficiency was simply trash.
The one nice thing I'd say about his play so far this season vs 2013 is that he appears to be doing more of his driving in the half court instead of getting more done on breakaways. He looks shiftier this year to me than he did then. He's also played against two pretty quick PGs in John Wall and Brandon Jennings.
On top of that the Wizards seemed quite anxious to prove they're legit against the Bulls and vice versa. That game was played at a high level of intensity and Rose tore them up in his minutes.
So the interesting and unexpected thing we have going on at the moment is watching Rose and wondering when he'll get his shot back. Seeing him play I've been oddly completely unworried about his athletic ability. He simply looks the same. No hesitation to take contact, drive, or do anything athletic.
That wasn't the case last season for me, but it does this year. It doesn't mean he won't get hurt or that he'll never have another knee problem, but I believe Rose when he says he feels 100% back health wise. He's playing like it.
So why isn't the shot there yet? The oddity about the whole thing is the list of things he has been able to participate in would be the things that should keep his shot on target. He's had all off-season to shoot. I'd guess he's put up 500+ shots a day. Yet we haven't seen the impact.
Not in terms of his confidence in taking it nor in terms of his success in hitting it. Driving Derrick Rose is great, but what made him an MVP was also his ability to knock down jumpers. He wasn't a tremendous three point shooter, but he could get his own jumper any time he wanted and hit it at a respectable clip.
If left wide open he'd tear teams up with his mid range game which is what would open up his driving game. Rondo can drive, and if Rondo could shoot like prime Rose, he'd have also be an MVP candidate. Unfortunately, Derrick Rose can't even shoot like prime Rondo right now, and we're left wondering how long it will take to get it back.
The good news, I think, is that it seems highly likely this all does come back doesn't it? Why would a guy who's Derrick's age suddenly permanently lose the ability to shoot? I suppose it's possible that in all his off-season training he wasn't shooting much, but it seems awfully unlikely.
Derrick doesn't strike me as a slacker that would have blown off shooting. Nor does it coincide with reports. I've been fairly pessimistic about Rose returning to MVP form. I think there will likely be some subtle differences that are hard to pick up with the eye test but ultimately leave him as a lesser player.
That still may be the case, but seeing him play in the first couple games it feels like he has a legit chance to get all the way back. I'm more optimistic than I've been in awhile. His health really does feel like it's there, his shot feels like something that should work its way out.
We won't know until it happens, but instead of predicting doom, I'm predicting mid to late December is when we see MVP caliber Derrick Rose start to resurface and by February we see that guy consistently. It's a long season, but Bulls fans expectations should continue to build as it progresses as I expect this team to play its best ball at the end of the season.
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