Oct 7, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (1) goes for a lay up during the first quarter against Memphis Grizzlies power forward Jon Leuer (30) at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

How far can Derrick Rose lead the Chicago Bulls this season?

Last season, Derrick Rose was arguably the most controversial person in the entire city of Chicago.

After reportedly being cleared by the team medical staff to resume playing, Rose decided to sit out the remainder of the 2012-13 season – including the playoffs, which included a pivotal rivalry game with the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat.

Now, all that is forgotten.

Rose, 25, enters play this season with fairly impressive career averages to go along with his 2011 NBA MVP award. 21 points per game is a solid enough number for a point guard, but add in the 6.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds he contributes in each contest, and it’s clear why he is such a critical piece to this Bulls team.

After his first preseason game last week, Rose reported no soreness in his surgically-repaired knee that he injured in the playoffs two seasons ago – which allowed Bulls fans to breathe a sigh of relief. Their captain was back.

Granted, there were a few moments where it was clear there was still at least some hesitation in the mind of the former #1 overall pick. However, by the time the second preseason contest rolled around, a much calmer Rose took control.

“I wasn’t winded. That’s one of the reasons why when I got the ball [I was] just trying to push it every time, and I’m surprising myself. I guess I’m in a little bit of conditioning. And having to guard Mike [Conley], chasing him around the whole court all the time, I think I did all right.”

Rose contributed 13 points in the second preseason contest, playing just 23 minutes against the Memphis Grizzlies. Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau noted the improvements between the two contests, as well.

“He’s feeling great and you’re seeing those explosions to the basket and the burst of speed and attacking. I think he’s finding his rhythm. It’s also the rest of the team getting you used to the speed that he plays at.”

In his 2010-11 MVP season, Rose averaged a career-high 25 points per game to go with almost eight assists and four rebounds. In his last season, which was 2011-12, his numbers tailed off a bit as he transitioned from a single-headed attack to more of a facilitator – which drew both praise and ire – from his critics. He tallied 21.8 points per contest to go with 3.4 boards. He also posted a career high in assists per game, averaging 7.9 dimes per contest.

With the returning pieces from last year’s playoff team – Luol Deng, a much-improved Joakim Noah who absolutely dominated the playoffs at times and shooting guard Jimmy Butler, whose emergence added a much-needed scoring option for Chicago – the addition of Derrick Rose makes Chicago a team that has all the makings of a club ready to dethrone King James and the Miami Heat.

 

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