There were people who questioned Derrick Rose’s decision to sit out last season once he was medically cleared to play. One of those doubters was none other than Charles Barkley, who made comments along the lines that Rose should have suited up for the Bulls being that he had been practicing at full speed for two months.
Well it is safe to say that those who doubted the Chicago Bulls star are eating their words right about now. Prior to the team’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Oct. 23, Rose was averaging 26 points per game over the previous three contests. Not only that, he has also shown the same trademark explosiveness that sets him apart from the other players in the league at his position.
Although the Bulls defeated the Thunder 104-95 to remain the only unbeaten team in the preseason at 7-0, that was not the main headline-that honor went to Derrick Rose. While Rose did not have a good shooting night, connecting on just 6-of-15 shots from the field, he provided the team with something they were sorely missing last season——a legitimate closer.
In the fourth quarter Rose scored 13 of his team-high 26 points, including three baskets from behind the arc, to help the Bulls hold off an opponent in the closing moments for the second time in three outings. Rose also handed out six assists and grabbed four rebounds.
Per Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago, teammate Carlos Boozer had this to say about Rose’s performance: “His skill, his skill set got better. His athleticism is obviously still there. Today he practically played left-handed because he had a sore elbow, and he still had an amazing game. Very impressive stuff, man.”
Some of you may say that it is just preseason and that these games don’t count towards anything, and technically, that assertion would be correct. However, please keep in mind that this sample of outings are the first real-game action for Rose in nearly 18 months and he’s already displaying signs that he has become a better player.
That being said, he will only continue to improve as the season progresses, which will ultimately make Chicago a contender in the Eastern Conference. I will take it a step further by saying that if Rose doesn’t suffer any major setbacks, and the team can remain healthy, there is no reason why the Bulls cannot challenge for the NBA title this season.