If USA Basketball practices accurately predict the future, Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls are approaching a very productive 2014-15 campaign.
Rose continues to make headlines for his play as Team USA gears up for the FIBA World Cup. Among the many optimistic people is Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who has been left smitten by Rose's efforts.
"He's been the most impressive guy here," Boeheim said, per ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell.
Why yes, that's saying something.
Rose is trying to make the 12-man roster while playing within a field that includes Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Paul George, among others. That he's been the most impressive of the bunch is, well, impressive.
Is Boeheim perhaps speaking in hyperbole, falling victim to the shock of seeing Rose play at all?
Not unless that same misconception has claimed USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has also praised Rose early on in the media:
[Rose’s] movement on defense is spectacular. When we started practice [Monday], what he did defensively was like, "Whoa." It picked everybody up. You don’t play that type of defense in the NBA because you have to play 40 minutes and 100 games. But [trying out for Team USA], if you play 20 minutes, that’s a lot, but you don’t have to play consecutively. So you can go to an extreme. And that’s what he’s doing.
Practices and scrimmages don't mean much in the scheme of things, yet Rose is going up against top-tier talent. Whether it earns him a roster spot remains to be seen, but it has to count for something, anything.
Just not too much.
Definitive conclusions cannot be drawn simply because Rose looks good. He looked good leading into last season, too. That didn't turn out so well. He played 10 games of mediocre basketball before suffering another season-ending injury.
And while Rose's return is already being seen as triumphant by so many, others like SB Nation's Jason Patt have opted to preach caution:
That's just where we're at with Rose. He has been out of sight and mind so often these past three seasons that people are starving to see any signs of him looking like the guy who took the NBA by storm. But at the same time, the fear of re-injury lingers after surgeries to repair a torn ACL and torn meniscus in opposite knees. It's a mindset sure to stick around until he proves otherwise.
Dunks are fun. Dominant practices are encouraging.
Actually playing is a step in the right direction.
But Rose has yet to prove anything. There are still critics to silence, expectations to meet and surpass.
Certain obstacles cannot be cleared until next season. Some of them are only left in the past once Rose proves he can play at a high level while remaining healthy.
Until then, until Rose puts distance between himself and the last three seasons—and then sustains said distance—all short-term accomplishments, no matter how impressive, must be taken at face value.
Not used to predict the unpredictable.