Derrick Rose is making quite an impression on everyone associated with USA Basketball. After showing off his trademark explosiveness and wowing head coach Mike Krzyzewski on day one of training camp, assistant Jim Boeheim called Rose “the most impressive guy here” 24 hours later.
ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell has more on the national team staff’s glowing praise of the 2011 MVP.
“That’s my biggest surprise coming in here,” Syracuse coach and Team USA assistant Jim Boeheim told ESPNChicago.com, in reference to Rose’s performance. “The one thing I was worried about is whether he would be able to step in after so much time [off]. He looks, to me, as good as when we had him in the world championship in ’10, when he was at full strength coming [into] an MVP year. He looks very, very good. Obviously, [when] he gets in some games, it will be a little different, but it’s not like he hasn’t had success in games. He had a lot of success.
“He’s been the most impressive guy here.”
Such adulation is especially noteworthy considering Team USA’s wealth of elite individual talent. Appraisal of Rose deserves a grain of salt considering inevitably adjusted expectations of his performance, but Boeheim’s raves are still incredibly encouraging.
More important than Rose flashing the brilliance that makes him one of the game’s best players when healthy, though, is that he does so consistently. Coach K says he not only matched his day one performance in the second practice of camp, but even exceeded it.
“He was phenomenal [Monday], and he was today, too,” Krzyzewski said. “He hasn’t held anything back. The neat thing about today was we went hard [Monday] and we went hard today, and he hasn’t been in this [practice] environment, and he was as good or better today.”
Conventional wisdom says that the Chicago Bulls’ offense will improve most as a result of Rose’s return. What should strike fear into the hearts of the rest of the league is that Krzyzewski seems most impressed with Rose’s defense so far. Thibodeau, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, and a fully rehabilitated and committed Rose gives Chicago the makings of an all-time great defensive outfit.
“He’s gone after people,” Krzyzewski said. “[Shying away from contact] ain’t happening. He’s going after everybody, and he’s really going hard. His movement on defense has been spectacular. When we started practice [Monday], what he did defensively — whoa. It picked everybody up. You don’t play that type of defense in the NBA because you have to play 40 minutes and 100 games, but here if you play 20 minutes, that’s a lot, but you don’t have to play consecutively, so you can go to an extreme — that’s what he’s doing…
“I think he’s been absolutely terrific these first two days.”
The FIBA World Cup is the perfect stage for Rose to reacclimate himself to the speed and intensity of professional basketball. And while his role with Team USA will be far different than that with the Bulls, we’ll surely see the burst, body control, and overall athleticism in Spain that makes Rose so effective.
There will be growing pains for Rose once the NBA season tips-off this fall, but all indications are that he’ll eventually regain the form that made him one of basketball’s finest players. And once he does, don’t be surprised if the Bulls emerge as firm Eastern Conference favorites.
Will Rose be an MVP candidate in 2014-2015?
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