Derrick Rose Returns to Bulls Lineup for First Time Since Knee Injury

Alex KayCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2013

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 16:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls laughs while warming up prior to the game against the Boston Celtics on January 16, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The return of Derrick Rose is finally here.

After a year and a half of grueling rehabilitation, the Chicago Bulls superstar will finally take to the court, making his triumphant debut during the 2013 preseason on Saturday night against the Indiana Pacers.

UPDATE: Sunday, Oct. 6, at 1:00 a.m. ET

Rose scored 13 points and had three assists in just over 20 minutes of playing time on Saturday.


---End of update---

The Bulls announced the news via Twitter:

Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD Tweeted a video of Rose's first basket of the night:

Rose spoke to CSN Chicago's Aggrey Sam after a practice session on Wednesday, telling the reporter that he is ready to go and cannot wait to return to the hardwood.

It’s the same. I’m ready. I’m just ready to go out there and play. Every day I’m getting stronger. I haven’t had any setbacks, and I’m just looking forward to that day when I step back on the court. I’ve been feeling great. Other than fatigue, I don’t have any other problems.

It’s been 18 months since the 2011 NBA MVP has seen the hardwood, with his last appearance coming all the way back on April 28 of 2012, when the 24-year-old tore his ACL at the tail end of the Bulls' first game of their first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Prior to that devastating injury, Rose wasn't exactly in the midst of his most healthy campaign. 

People tend to forget that Rose was plagued by injury during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, appearing in only 39 of 66 possible games as he dealt with elbow problems, toe sprains, back spasms, groin issues, ankle sprains, foot issues and more before his ACL gave way.

However, Rose was still dominant when he was out on the hardwood, having averaged 21.8 points, 7.9 assists, and 3.4 rebounds over 35.3 minutes per game, which bodes well for his return on Saturday.

There is a chance he looks rusty out the gate, especially in an exhibition contest against a stingy Pacers defense, but coach Tom Thibodeau has to put his faith in the young star and give him the time he needs to acclimate to the pace of an NBA contest.

Eventually, Rose is going to hit his stride and likely make at least one play that will remind everyone why he was named the game's Most Valuable Player just two short years ago.

It could take more than one matchup for Rose to find his rhythm, but the Bulls have the luxury of eight preseason contests to get their star back to the top of his game. In order to reach its ceiling this coming campaign, Chicago is going to need Rose to score points, and a lot of them.

The squad struggled to put the ball through the net throughout the 2012-13 campaign; averaging just 93.2 points per game during the season, the third worst scoring team in the league.

Those numbers didn't drastically change during the postseason, as the Bulls were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Miami Heat.

With the 2013-14 season on the horizon, Rose’s reappearance should push Chicago up from a glorified roadblock in the Eastern Conference to a serious contender for the 2014 NBA Finals.