As that day grows closer and closer (his return date is still unknown, but he has begun participating in portions of practice), there's reason for Bulls fans to increase their excitement level. Recently, the Rose-less Bulls have been impressing, tallying a strand of stellar victories against quality opponents.
The Bulls are gaining momentum and will receive quite a jolt of life upon Rose's return. If Rose returns to his former self and their current nucleus continues performing at this rate, Chicago will be right back in the mix of being a true title contender.
That's the best case scenario when it comes to Rose's return and here we will specifically outline how this could look. This complete guide to Rose's return may contain some wishful thinking. However, if we've learned anything about Rose since he came into the league, it's that nothing is out of reach for the humble superstar.
*Stats used in this slideshow were as of December 22, 2012.
Let's get the obvious one out of the way first.
A successful return for Rose will undoubtedly feature total health—free of setbacks, randomly missed games or potentially other injuries.
Prior to Rose's injury last season, he was consistently banged up with a handful of varying injuries. The Bulls surely hope to avoid such a trend upon his return.
They ultimately not only need his healed ACL to hold up, but they also need all the facets of his body to remain in full health. If he returns and can only play sporadically due to setbacks and new injuries, it will be incredibly tough for the Bulls to establish chemistry.
This is the obvious one in this guide, but it's honestly the most important. If he can return to form and stay healthy, great things are likely in store for the Bulls. But everything is contingent upon the body of their 24-year-old superstar. They need complete health from him to reach their ceiling come playoff time.
Upon Rose's return, we can't expect him to immediately return to those elusive slashes through the lane that result in above the rim finishes. Those highlight-reel plays should return in due time, but Rose's injury will almost surely force him to play with more patience.
And this could be a good thing.
When Rose returns, he'll likely defer to his teammates at a high rate while he regains his touch. This means he'll make smart decisions, take wise shots and run the offense efficiently.
He's surely been superb at these things in the past, but his game will likely ascend to new levels through a more patient approach upon his return. He will learn that he can truly trust his teammates and he won't be forcing anything.
He'll slowly return to the high-flying playmaker that he is, but a more patient overall approach is only going to help him in the long run. It will help him establish more deceptiveness in his game and this development will contribute to his all-around maturity as a player.
Rose has been shooting on his own for quite awhile now. It's the one area of his game that he's been able to work on a decent amount despite the rehab.
Honestly, it's one of the main areas in his game that has always needed work. He has made strides as a shooter, but many teams have always been content to allow him to hoist jumpers from long range. He's just a 31.0 percent three-point shooter on his career.
You can expect that number to increase upon his return to action. He's been working on his shooting and it's almost certain that he'll have confidence in it when he hits the hardwood.
In the past couple years, his outside shooting has commanded a little bit of respect, but upon his return it could become something that opponents always have to defend. If his three-point percentage can leap to the 37-40 percent range while he also knocks down long two-pointers at a more adept rate, then Rose is beginning to reach a level where he has no weakness.
In time, a successful return for Rose will feature this improved shooting as well as a return to his acrobatic self. If this happens, an MVP award will likely be on its way again in the next few seasons.
Rose will return to a slew of new teammates with whom he hasn't played one minute. He will need some time to develop chemistry with these players and this is where his patient approach will help him gel with some of these new faces.
A key new face that he'll need to find chemistry with is Marco Belinelli, who has been playing exceptionally well as of late. Whether or not he's starting or coming off the bench (upon Richard Hamilton's return), Belinelli is a key element to the Bulls' success.
In returning from injury, Rose will surely not hit the scene and try to take over games by his lonesome. He is going to need his teammates and this is going to result in developed chemistry with his new teammates.
Further, this will also result in newfound chemistry with some faces that he's already familiar with, but he'll just have to trust more. His chemistry with Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson will likely reach new heights.
As is clear in numerous slides, a successful return for Rose will feature plenty of patience, a legitimate trust of teammates and overall matured outlook on the game. This enhanced style of play will only help the Bulls flourish together as a team.
The pinnacle feature to a successful return for D-Rose is a championship run. If he can return in late February or early March, regain his form in the remaining games of the regular season and then perform at an MVP-type level in the playoffs, the Bulls could be on the verge of a title campaign.
This may sound like wishful thinking, especially since nobody is considering the Bulls a true contender this season. But the Bulls are perfectly fine staying under the radar. They know what they are capable of, especially when they have their superstar in the lineup.
For the past couple seasons, the Bulls led the league in regular season wins. They made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, and could've potentially reached the NBA Finals last season if Rose had remained healthy.
Therefore, upon his return, a championship run is not outside the realm of reason. They have a solid nucleus that is currently meshing well without Rose and they'll only be able to attain new levels with him.
A 2013 championship would be the ultimate culmination to a successful return for Rose and it would surely make for quite an inspirational comeback story.