If rumors are to be believed, Derrick Rose will not have to wait too long to prove he is back. With the NBA schedule reportedly set to come out Tuesday, the hot rumor is that the Bulls will open their season in Miami against the Heat. Derrick Rose will have one game to prove just at what level he is at after missing the entire 2013 season recovering from a torn ACL.
The 2014 season though will be about how quickly Derrick Rose can work his way back from the injury and prove himself to be among the league's elite once again. Even though he won the MVP in 2011, this is still a "what have you done for me now" society and Rose will have to prove that he can play at that level consistently. In 2012, Rose averaged 21.8 points and 7.9 assists per game in leading the Bulls to their second consecutive top overal seed in the Playoffs.
Then, of course, he tore his ACL in Game One against Philadelphia and uncertainty reigned. Can Rose continue to play his jerking, break-kneck style and protect that knee?
That is a question that cannot truly be answered until the season starts and something Rose will have to prove all season. Certainly more so in the Playoffs when the stakes get raised and even more if the Bulls end up playing with the Heat as so many suspect.
Rose is not lacking for confidence though. He told CNN's Pedro Pinto that he views himself as the best player in the league. Something every great player should say, but few would agree with that — not with LeBron James hanging around.
Saying and doing are two different things. Saying and doing for 82 games plus another three months in the Playoffs are two different things too.
With so many great point guards in the league now, Rose is going to have prove all over again just how much better than them he really is. Does that mean he has to regain his MVP form where he averaged better than 25 points per game, drained 3-pointers with alarming ease and led his team to the Eastern Conference Finals? Maybe not all that, but it would not hurt.
What the point is for Rose is that nothing is going to be given to him.
Rajon Rondo, coming off his own ACL injury, could very well be an All Star again and take that starting role from him. Dwyane Wade despite his age still has immense popularity.
The last time Rose saw the Heat in a meaningful game, they were still figuring themselves out as a team and figuring out how to fit into their roles. LeBron James was brilliant in that Eastern Conference Finals, but was only two weeks away from the lowest point in his career. Now James is at the height of his powers with two NBA championships under his belt and the desire to win a third.
Rose's spot on Team USA for the 2014 World Cup seems up in the air with Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving pushing for more playing time over established U.S. veterans Deron Williams and Chris Paul. Where does Rose, a member of the 2010 World Cup champions, fit in?
Rose certainly fits in and could blow away all our expectations when he finally takes the court. But he is going to have to earn all those accolades and awards once again. It is not quite starting from square one, but Rose has an uphill battle to make to return to his spot among the NBA's unquestioned elite.