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Derrick Rose's Slow Start After Return from Injury Shouldn't Come as Surprise

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 29: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls plays defense against the Miami Heat on October 29, 2013 at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Dhiren MahibanFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

Derrick Rose had just 12 points in his highly anticipated return to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night, but a slow start should be expected of the superstar.

He is coming off a torn ACL, which is a major injury. An NBA player must be able to stop and start quickly, and move in any given direction at any given time. He has to be able to pivot and, of course, run.

A fully healthy anterior cruciate ligament is necessary for all of these movements as Rose looks to return to his MVP form.

A good example of Rose still adjusting to the NBA pace came in a defensive situation during the second quarter of Tuesday’s game when Miami Heat point guard Norris Cole's crossover had Rose going the wrong way.

Rose was playing in his first meaningful game since April 28, 2012, when he made his return against Eastern Conference foe Miami. The 25-year-old played a surprising 34 minutes in the 107-95 loss, nearly matching his 2011-12 season average of 35.3 minutes per game.

Not so surprising is the fact that he’s a little sore already. That happens when you don’t play competitively for over a calendar year. Adam Fluck of Bulls.com reported that Rose is battling a sore neck.

Even though Rose may be fully healthy, it's still going to take some time for him to get into game shape and acclimate himself to the speed of regular-season action. And as the focal point for Chicago, he's consistently going to see plenty of pressure and attention from defenses.

As a result, it's going to take some games under his belt for the numbers to come.

A word of advice for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: Go slow with your star. There’s no sense in rushing the guard.

Thibodeau will have to continue to rely on the likes of Carlos Boozer, who had a game-high 31 points in Tuesday’s loss, as Rose continues to get up to game speed.

If the Bulls are going to compete with the likes of the Miami Heat, who have won back-to-back championships, a healthy Rose will be essential down the stretch.

It’s more important for Rose to be healthy enough to play 34-plus minutes in March and April, as the games get more significant, than it is for him to go full steam in the first week of the season.

Ease him into it.

Give him rest when he needs it and hopefully we will soon see the Rose from three seasons ago who averaged 25 points in 37.4 minutes per game and successfully captured the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the league’s MVP.

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