The talk of Team USA, at least until Paul George’s unsettling injury, has been Derrick Rose. The Bulls point guard is battling back from a pair of knee ligament injuries, which have limited him to a total of two NBA games played over the past two seasons, and so far he has looked very good.
Wait, just “very good”? Team USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski went even further than that in an ESPN report.
“It takes an exceptional person [to return to Rose’s previous level of play], which is why we’re talking about Derrick,” Krzyzewski told ESPN. “I think he’s exceptional in every way. He went right at it. The first defensive exchange in the camp, he was all over the ball handler, moving his feet, attacking him. There was a buzz right away because it was basically his saying, ‘Look, I’m not just back. I’m back at a level that’s elite.’ “
In Rose’s case, getting back to being the player he was before his injuries would certainly mean being “elite,” because that version was named the NBA’s most valuable player in 2011. Beyond helping his country in the FIBA World Championships, which begin Aug. 30, Rise is the key to Chicago’s hopes of contending for an NBA championship, especially after the team struck out this offseason in pursuit of top free agents LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Even in the wake of George’s injury, the Bulls appear happy to let Rose go all out in an effort to make the national team. Gar Forman, the team’s general manager, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I think it’s a real positive that he gets an opportunity to do this and do it against the level of competition that he’s doing it against.’’
Rose certainly looked quite athletic and unhampered by any concerns over his knees in Team USA’s recent intrasquad showcase. Here are some of his highlights from that game: