Derrick Rose Return: Grading Bulls Star's 1st Performance Since Knee Injury

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Derrick Rose Return: Grading Bulls Star's 1st Performance Since Knee Injury

For the first time since April 28, 2012, Derrick Rose played in an NBA basketball game. Rose made his preseason debut as the Chicago Bulls defeated the Indiana Pacers by a count of 82-76.

525 days later, Rose is still a star.

Rose finished his return to NBA action with 13 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals in 20 minutes and 26 seconds of play. His playing time was limited, but when he was on the court, Rose was the same exciting player that fans have grown to love.

Bleacher Report's Howard Beck provided an update on Rose via Vine:

When it was all said and done, Chicago got the win in the box score and in its rotation. D-Rose is back.

Here's how it all transpired.

Offense: A-

Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

When it comes to D-Rose, it's no secret that the key to his game and rise to fame has been his explosive style of offense. Fans love anyone who can attack the rim with relentless pursuit, and Rose is one of the best in the world at doing just that.

During his return to the NBA, Rose reminded the Pacers of why he's so difficult to defend.

He didn't display the same burst, but that doesn't mean it isn't present. Keep in mind, this is his first game back. What Rose did flash, however, is the slashing prowess that made him the 2011 NBA MVP.

Best of all, he worked off the ball.

Rose's jump shot is the key to future success, but Saturday was all about his ability to slash.

Rose attacked off the dribble, displayed his strong handles and made the hard cuts that catch every defense off-balance. He didn't attempt a single three-point field goal—the only real cause for concern—but he did draw contact and finish around the basket.

Thirteen points on 5-of-12 shooting in less than 21 minutes is what you call a quality return.

Rose ended up with three assists, doing a good job on the drive-and-dish, and walked away with two offensive rebounds. This not only displayed that he's still aggressive, but also that he's confident enough in his body to bang bodies down low.

After his debut, it's safe to say that Rose will continue making his money as an offensive stud.

Defense: A-

Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

Rose benefits from playing within one of the best defensive systems in the entire NBA. Head coach Tom Thibodeau knows his players' strengths and weaknesses and consistently places them in position to succeed.

During his return to action, Rose reminded the NBA why Thibodeau's system works so much better when there's a supremely athletic point guard at the top of the key.

Rose played the passing lanes well, picking up two steals to one personal foul, and he showed that his world-class anticipation remains a key to his game. One steal ended up in a dunk and was a result of Rose having the proper positioning to make a play on a mishandled ball.

It wasn't flashy, but it offers the Bulls the transition scoring opportunities they lacked without Rose.

During the 2012-13 NBA regular season, the Bulls were 22nd in turnovers forced per game at 13.1. During the 2010-11 season, Rose's last full NBA campaign, Chicago averaged 14.1 turnovers forced per contest—a full 1.0 higher.

It's too early to make any extreme proclamations, but Chicago's defense looked like a well-oiled machine with Rose back in the rotation.

Shaking the Rust: B+

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

When a player is returning from an injury, there's bound to be rust found on his game. As much as his supporters may want to say there isn't, there was quite a bit of it for Rose in his first game back.

That's hardly something to be shocked by, nor is it reason to criticize him, but it's a factor nonetheless.

Rose has always played a high-risk, high-reward style of basketball, resulting in a high volume of turnovers committed and buckets allowed. That doesn't make him any less of an extraordinary ball-handler or on-ball defender, but the facts are what they are.

Then again, rust is likely better than wear and tear.

During his debut, we saw signs of Rose's improvements.

Rose took gambles defensively, but for the most part, he did a very good job of latching on to George Hill and shutting him down. Offensively, it wasn't as conservative, as Rose shot 5-of-12 from the field and committed four turnovers.

Then again, why wouldn't Rose take gambles during his first game back? It's all about removing the rust, and by the end of the game, Rose appeared to do just that.

Motion: B+

More important than the way he shot the ball or defended his man was how well Rose was able to move on the court. Finally returning from a devastating torn ACL that forced him to miss an entire NBA season, Rose was more comfortable than one might've assumed.

While it wasn't a flawless performance, Rose reminded everyone that he once rivaled Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder as the most explosive point guard in the NBA. It'll take time to determine whether he still does, but the early signs are encouraging.

WNBA star Swin Cash offered up her two cents:

It's hard to argue.

Rose was smooth while working the open floor, and though he lacked the explosive burst in his leap, the feeling-out process went well. He attacked the basket and placed angled pressure on his knees, displaying that his legs are recovered.

As the preseason goes on, expect Rose to answer questions about whether or not his legs are ready for 82 games of his original style of play. The video placed above offers reason for encouragement.

Overall: B+

Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

What is D-Rose's upside in 2013-14?

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Truth be told, Rose hitting the court for the first time in more than 500 days is reason enough to grant an A-plus. Not only has D-Rose missed enough time for a gaping void to be created in the Eastern Conference, but the race for MVP and the NBA championship has become rather one-dimensional.

Realistically, though, it was more of a B-plus.

Rose played a strong game, shaking off the rust to an extent and putting forth quality ball on both ends of the floor. He went toe-to-toe with an underrated point guard in Hill and emerged as the victor both on a team-wide and individual scale.

It wasn't the best game of his career, but it was an excellent return to the NBA.

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