In the NBA's opening night, the Chicago Bulls and their fans will get something they've been waiting almost 17 months for: Derrick Rose on the court. Rose will take the court against the defending NBA Champions, the Miami Heat, in his first NBA game since he tore his ACL in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 2012.
While many critics were quick to ridicule Rose for holding off on his return, Rose made the right call and will come back better than he ever was, which is saying a lot for a guy who has already been Rookie of the Year, NBA MVP and a three-time NBA all-star at the ripe age of 25.
It'll be tough for Rose to put up better numbers than he usually does. He's averaged 21 points per game throughout his career along with almost seven assists and four rebounds per contest. He's one of the most explosive players in the NBA and is nearly unstoppable when he takes it to the rack.
A knee injury is one of the worst case scenarios for a guy who plays like Derrick Rose. Lateral movement and driving hard off of one leg is what he does. A serious knee injury should, at least theoretically, take away a lot of that.
According to Nick Friedell of ESPN.com, that part of his game isn't gone at all; in fact, Rose says it's better than it ever was:
"I think I jump higher. I think coming into the league I was at 37 [inches for a vertical jump] and they tested my vertical at [a training facility] I'm probably at like a 42, so I'm jumping a little bit higher."
Whether you believe that Rose can jump higher or not, just look at his preseason numbers if you don't believe he's back to normal. In the preseason, Rose has averaged over 20 points, five assists and three rebounds per contest and shot over 40 percent from three, along with a number of impressive plays.
It certainly doesn't hurt for Rose to come back to an already outstanding team. Rose will come back to a projected starting lineup that features Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler—a lineup most NBA fans would be happy about. Add Derrick Rose to the mix? Talk about a solid starting five. Rose returns to a team that made it to the Eastern Conference Semis without him last season, where they were beat by the eventual NBA champions.
Rose is such a talented player that it's extremely hard to believe that he won't come back better than ever. When he was healthy, he was one of the best players in the entire league. He has the opportunity to give the Heat a run in NBA's Eastern Conference this season. Now, his knee is stronger than ever. After surgery to fix his injury and a year of strengthening, things can only get better for the young superstar as he continues his legendary NBA career.
Because Rose took the time to get back to tip-top shape and didn't rush his return, he'll come back better and stronger than ever. He's somehow added even more explosiveness to his game, and he returns to a team that was already competing without their superstar. The 2013-14 season will be another great year for Rose, possibly even his best yet. He'll get things going in style against the Miami Heat in Chicago's season opener.