Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said on Saturday that Derrick Rose was "most likely out" for the playoffs, but noted that he was still holding out hope that the 24-year-old star would be able to join the team this season, per Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com.
But—even if Rose returns during the playoffs—the Bulls will not win the NBA title.
After ranking 12th in the NBA in field-goal percentage with Rose last season, the Bulls ranked 25th in the category without him this year. That's how much the 2010-11 MVP matters to Chicago.
So it's natural that some may think inserting Rose into the lineup during the playoffs this season would make the Bulls instant title contenders, like they were last season.
But there are two things in particular that make that unrealistic. One, you can't expect Rose to instantly be as electric as he was last season if he is rushed into the lineup coming off a torn ACL. Two, the Bulls haven't played with Rose all season long and there would naturally be an adjustment period for the team upon his return.
It generally takes at least a full year to recover from a torn ACL. It's no joke. Rose tore his ACL on April 28 of last year. In that regard, it's no surprise that he's been hesitant to come back right away, despite being cleared by team doctors in early March. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson—who played about eight months after a torn ACL and MCL—is frankly an unrealistic model to compare Rose to. That's because few players have ever fully come back that quickly. Peterson was a very rare case.
Those who have torn their ACL before will tell you it's not just the physical aspect of the injury that makes it so difficult to fully recover. As Rose mentioned, you have to be able to completely trust your body. That naturally takes time (via ESPNChicago).
In that case, even if Rose returned during the playoffs this season, chances are he wouldn't feel completely comfortable and it would limit his explosiveness, agility and bulldog mentality, three characteristics that propelled him on the hardwood before. He would be "limited Derrick Rose"—physically and mentally—instead of "100 percent Derrick Rose."
But, more than that, you can't expect that because the Bulls had such great chemistry alongside Rose last season, that such chemistry would magically appear right when he stepped on the court. The Miami Heat didn't pick up where they left off last season by simply taking the summer off. They worked tirelessly together in the offseason to build on the chemistry they had finally achieved. Sure, the Bulls' chemistry with Rose would likely eventually pick up in the playoffs, but it would probably be too little, too late.
The reality is, the Chicago Bulls won't win the title this season, with or without Derrick Rose.
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