Maybe all that time off the court was the best thing for Derrick Rose's knee.
In the Chicago Bulls' 96-81 preseason win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night, Rose had 22 points, two rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes. After the game, he said he felt even better physically than before the ACL injury that cost him the entire 2012-13 season, via ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell:
I think I'm way more explosive now. Like getting to the rim. I think I can take contact a little bit better. And as far as jumping-wise, I think I can jump even higher. They tested my vertical -- I increased it by 5 inches. I just didn't show it yet because there's no need to.
The biggest thing is after you have an ACL or any injury, it's the mental part. And for me not to think about anything no more and actually be reacting to the defense and the offense, it feels great knowing that I'm safe. I don't have to worry about anything at all, even if I go to the hole and get contact and fall any type of way, that I could easily get up and bounce right back and play the way that I normally know how to play.
This comes less than a week after Rose was kept out of Chicago's preseason matchup with the Washington Wizards on Oct. 12, via the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson.
Rose then said the decision was more of a precautionary measure.
His performance against the Pistons would back up that fact. Although it's only preseason, the star point guard looked confident leading the offense. As Rose himself said, one of the biggest problems to overcome with long-term injuries is the mental side.
Professional athletes cannot have even the tiniest seed of doubt in their own talent, or they risk becoming a different player altogether and a shell of their former selves.
As a player who drives into the paint often and welcomes contact, Rose must have full confidence in that knee if he's going to become an MVP-caliber player again.
Bulls fans will be encouraged to hear that he's not worried whatsoever about what could happen to that surgically repaired knee. In addition, he may even be an improved version of his former self, much as Adrian Peterson was upon his return from an ACL injury in 2012.
Of course, opposing teams are not going to be quite so happy.