But now, the dynamic point guard has told the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson that in his return from the year-long injury, “The only thing that has changed in my game is the confidence. My confidence grew as a player. You’ll see that when I play.”
According to Johnson, Rose has added a left-handed floater and an improved jumper, both of which just add to an already terrifying offensive arsenal. Remember, this floor general was able to win MVP without as much confidence or as many moves.
However, the truly scary part of this isn't what Rose can do as an individual but rather what the Bulls could do with him back on the court. As the point guard told The Associated Press (via NBA.com), Chicago is right back in title contention:
I think it's close. With the same team, the nucleus, that we have, we made it to the conference finals with a couple plays that could have easily changed the outcome. Every player is getting better individually. I think everybody's healed up. We know how big it is. It's just going to take time for me to adjust back to my teammates because they're used to playing with each other.
The Bulls were one of the sub-elite teams in 2012-13, but that figures to change now. Along with the Miami Heat, the Indiana Pacers, the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks, they're part of the group of five squads expected to leave the rest of the Eastern Conference in the dust.
And it all starts with Rose.
As B/R's Grant Hughes wrote, "Normally, a player returning from a catastrophic knee injury would take the court with the benefit of lowered expectations. There would be an understanding among fans and teammates that it might take some time for said player to get comfortable."
Will Rose play like an MVP candidate in 2013-14?
But there won't be any sort of lowered expectations for Rose. He doesn't get to use any excuses or slowly ease himself back into competition after missing an entire season.
Once more, Rose is the face of the Chicago franchise, and he'll have to play like it from the first time he takes the court, likely to be the season opener against the Heat on Oct. 29.
We might not know exactly what to expect from him at first, but at least we know he'll be confident.