I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t see into the future, so I won’t say with absolute certainty that Derrick Rose will avoid serious injury the rest of his career, or even this season.
But what I can say with conviction is that Rose is in a better position to stay healthy and regain his prior form now than he was last year.
For starters, he’s more than two years removed from the ACL surgery on his left knee and that leg should be completely healed and 100 percent. Although players usually can return to action about a year following surgery, the time frame for a complete recovery is closer to two years.
It’s at that point when you begin to feel like your old self and can put the injury completely behind you mentally. Your body also is in better balance because you haven’t spent the previous six months rehabbing one leg intensely.
Also, the meniscus tear that forced Rose to the sidelines last year just 10 games into the regular season is not nearly as serious an injury as an ACL tear. Surgery was performed to repair the meniscus and the recovery period is six months, at which point you’re pretty much close to normal.
Rose has had all summer to improve his conditioning and get stronger, and playing with the U.S. team in the upcoming World Cup of Basketball is the perfect way for him to get primed and ready for the NBA season after sitting out virtually all of the previous two seasons.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is an assistant coach on the U.S. team, so he’s been able to watch Rose’s progress up close during the training camp in Las Vegas two weeks ago and the practice sessions yesterday and today at the Quest MultiSport Complex in Chicago.
“I like the idea of him coming back in this setting,” Thibodeau said. “The quality of depth is so strong, we’re asking all these guys to sacrifice playing time and sacrifice some shots for the sake of the team, so he doesn’t have the burden of having to score 25 points and play a lot of minutes. Just go out there and do your job.
“It’s a great setting for him. The way it’s played out, we were in Vegas, then he had an opportunity to rest for a week. He worked on his conditioning and I can see where he’s improved. He had a great day [Thursday], so each day there’s been great improvement. Just take it day-by-day, don’t force things, find the rhythm of the game, and I think that’s what he’s doing. I think that’s what he learned from the comeback last season, is just to be a little more patient.
“I like the way he’s playing on both ends of the floor.”
It would be silly to suggest that the back-to-back injuries somehow could turn into a positive. The last two seasons were lost years and they could have been great seasons for the Bulls with a healthy Rose.
But there’s still time for Rose, who will turn 26 on Oct. 4, to achieve all of his career aspirations -- including winning a championship with his hometown team.
If there was a benefit to sitting out the last two seasons, Rose said it was that he started watching film closely during the down time and that has improved his understanding of the game. He watched tape on his own and with Thibodeau and said he now realizes that he has to pick his spots to use his speed and athleticism and doesn’t have to go at full throttle 100 percent of the time.
“For me, I always had a natural feel for the game, so I didn’t have to look at a lot of film,” he said. “But looking at that film actually can help your game in another way. You see things that you normally don’t see and you use a lot more energy out there than you normally need. For me, I’m just trying to cut all that out and just play a solid game.”
Bulls fans can get a close-up look at Rose Saturday night when the U.S. team faces Brazil in an exhibition game at the United Center (8 p.m., ESPN).
Nobody will be happier than Thibodeau to see Rose back on the UC floor.
“You’re not gonna find a better guy than him,” the coach said. “He obviously is a superstar talent, but he’s a great guy on top of that. He’s a great teammate and we’re very fortunate to have him here in Chicago. He plays to win, he plays for the team.
“He’s been very unfortunate to have the injuries, but I think in the end those injuries are gonna make him a lot stronger. I think he’s grown through that adversity, I think he’s prepared himself well for the upcoming season.”
At this time, that's as good as it gets.
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