Derrick Rose has made big improvements since the start of the preseason, and he's been having fun shaking off the rust from a 17-month layoff from the NBA.
It’s difficult to fathom how much different Derrick Rose looks from when the Bulls opened the preseason just over two weeks ago, to his last two outings against the Indiana Pacers on Friday and the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night.
After missing 17 months of NBA basketball, D. Rose looked rusty when the Bulls opened their preseason slate against the aforementioned Pacers on Oct. 5. But in his last two games, Rose has looked like the player who once beat out LeBron James for the league MVP and solidified himself as one of the top players in the game.
"I’m happy you’re saying that," Rose told a reporter who remarked on how well he’s looked on the court of late. "But for me, I still have a long way to go. I’ve got to get in the groove. I think I had like four turnovers tonight, so I just need to get them down and make better decisions."
Rose may have given the ball away four times, but he was an efficient 6-10 from the field and shot 10-11 from the free throw line against Milwaukee. In his last two preseason contests, he’s scored 32 points in 31 minutes, and 24 points in 27 minutes; nearly a point per minute rate.
Some may view that as a heavy load, but to D. Rose, it’s just light work.
"I think I'm not getting enough,” said Rose of the minutes he’s been logging on the court. “I wanted to go back in the game tonight but Thibs didn't call my name, so I can't get mad at it. They've been managing my minutes great."
Despite not putting his star back in a game that was essentially a blowout early on, Tom Thibodeau sees his point guard becoming more and more comfortable in games and credits his hard work on the practice court.
"I think he has a great balance to his game right now," said Thibodeau. "If you back up on him, he doesn't hesitate to pull up. If you come up on him, he will go back. He is pushing the ball and attacking right from the start. He is pushing himself, which is what I like to see. You cannot underestimate how hard he is practicing right now."
"I'm loving every moment," Rose said. "Every second, I'm loving it. I'm back playing the sport that I love playing, so for me it feels like a new start."