That's all right, though. Rose will still be huge for the Bulls this season.
A common fear is that Rose will be tentative in the lane, or will have lost just enough quickness to limit his explosiveness. Never fear, Bulls fans, each of those sentiments are nonsense.
Call it bravado if you want, but Rose will have a monster year. Here are three of the reasons why:
Rose's mobility is better than ever
During the Bulls' first preseason game, Rose had no issue changing direction at the beginning of the third quarter when he picked up a loose ball at halfcourt and took it to the hole for a two-handed flush. It is that type of quick shifting that is often the last thing to return when recovering from ACL surgery.
It also helps that throughout the recovery process, Rose worked diligently to offset any potential limitations to his mobility by increasing his leaping ability. To that effect, Rose said his vertical jump increased 5 inches from when he first entered the NBA, per ESPN.com's Nick Friedel. Being able to separate vertically will make his notorious drives into the lane a bit more tenable.
To be sure, conditioning will need to be a focus throughout the rest of the preseason. Given the fact that there appears to be no limitations to his range of motion, though, that will take care of itself considering Rose's work ethic.
A return to dominance is not unprecedented
Want to talk about MVP-winning athletes returning from ACL surgery to be even better than they were prior to their injury? Look no further than Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. In his second season after undergoing surgery on both his ACL and MCL, the Minnesota Vikings running back rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to the NFL MVP.
In the NBA, Jamal Crawford stands as the closest representation of what Rose is in the midst of. After tearing his ACL in 2001 during a pick-up game with Michael Jordan, Crawford -- who won the Sixth Man of the Year in 2010 -- rehabbed and is still playing basketball 12 years later. The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson noted that Crawford "is one of many who have rebounded" from ACL surgery.
Granted, Peterson plays a different sport, and Rose performs at a higher level than Crawford ever did. That does not change the fact that with proper rehabilitation, athletes can return as strong as -- if not stronger than -- they were before they underwent surgery. There is nothing stopping Rose from having his best year ever.
Rose has the mentality of a winner
Sam Smith from Bulls.com wrote following the Bulls' first preseason game, "Rose was as serene and unconcerned as others were anxious and nervous." Don't just take it from Smith, though. He quoted Rose telling pool reporters, "I was going to play the same way. Play aggressive, make them stop me, but get out in the open floor." Rose continued by saying that he'd "been preparing … for this moment for the last year and a half now."
See, having physical gifts is only one part of the recipe that makes the greatest athletes as dominant as they are. It takes a singleness of purpose to put winning in front of everything else. Rose has that, and it is a trait that cannot be underestimated. No matter what anyone tries to tell you, winning takes talent and effort.
So Rose's motion has returned, there is a history of top-flight performers returning stronger than ever from ACL surgery, and he possesses the mentality to overcome any obstacle. Given the dynamic nature of his athleticism, is there anything else he needs?
Bulls fans are in for a wonderful ride this season. The Miami Heat are waiting. Rose is up to the challenge. Expect great things, Chicago.
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