Over the span of just 34 months, Derrick Rose has undergone three different knee surgeries. That means Rose has had to go through three different rehabilitations and to return to the court without knowing how his surgically repaired knees will respond to the demands of the NBA game. Rose’s most recent surgery to repair a torn meniscus is much less serious than his previous surgeries, and as a result the timetable for his return is much more clear.
Despite the fact that Rose is only expected to be out between four and six weeks, there have been many who have already written Rose off. This reaction is understandable, as many promising NBA careers have been derailed by injuries. Penny Hardaway looked like he would be a transformative force for many years before having to undergo surgery during the 1997-98 season, and the same knee was operated on several times thereafter.
Hardaway is not the only cautionary tale, as Grant Hill’s troublesome ankles robbed him of the prime of his career. For a player like Rose, whose freakish athleticism had helped make him a dominant force, it is easy to assume that he will no longer the MVP-caliber player he once was. While that is an easy assumption to make, it is not necessarily a wise one, as there are many reasons to believe that Rose will be able to return to the Chicago Bulls as an important part of a team with championship aspirations.
10. His Rehab Has Already Started
Any time the word surgery is mentioned, it is natural to assume that there will be some recovery time necessary before rehabilitation can begin in earnest. In the case of Rose’s most recent surgery, this is simply not the case. In fact, Rose has already started the rehabilitation process, beginning just one day after having the surgery, according to ESPN. That alone should underscore the fact that this particular surgery is nowhere near as serious as the others Rose has had to undergo, and ultimately this process may make it less painful for Rose to play when he does return to the floor.
9. Rose Will Be Back Before Season’s End
Unlike some of Rose’s previous rehabilitations, the Bulls have already established a clear timetable for the star guard’s return. A torn medial meniscus is a common injury in the NBA, and the recovery process is understood very well by NBA medical staffs. The estimated time for recovery from the surgery is four to six weeks, which puts Rose on schedule to return before the playoffs begin, even if the rehabilitation takes the full six weeks.
8. Back to Practice and Drills Within a Week of Surgery
There is some thought Rose will have to shake off some rust after not having played for four to six weeks while recovering, but that shouldn’t be the case. He is on schedule to begin basketball drills and practice within a week following the surgery, so he should be more than ready to play when he first suits up in a Bulls uniform again this season. The intensity of the drills Rose goes through will increase as he gets closer to his return, and while it may be fair to expect a bit of a readjustment, he will certainly be back up to game speed by the time the playoffs roll around.
7. He’s Already Been Through Much Worse
Some players have a great deal of difficulty going through the rehabilitation and recovery process, especially the first time around. It is normal to feel hesitant and to wonder how the body will respond, but Rose already has a clear understanding of the process after having been through much longer and more daunting injuries and rehabilitations. He will be able to draw on his prior experience, knowing that how much he puts into the rehabilitation process will influence how long it takes for him to get back on the court. Having been through the rehabilitation for his ACL, he also understands the type of mental strength that is necessary to get through an injury and to be back in time to help his teammates in the playoffs.
6. Rose Has Shown He Can Be Effective Despite Reduced Athleticism
The torn meniscus is not going to take away athleticism from Rose that hasn’t already been lost due to the ACL surgery. We have already seen the type of player Rose can be when lacking the superior athleticism that made him the youngest MVP in the history of the league, and he is still a very effective player and a difference-maker for this Bulls team. While he was not giving the Bulls the 25 and 8 he averaged during the 2010-11 season, 18 and 5 is still valuable production, especially since he was doing it in reduced minutes.
5. Returns to a Better Supporting Cast
Speaking of those 18 PPG and 5 APG, Rose has an excellent supporting cast that is far better than any other he has had during his career. The Bulls once heavily relied on Rose to be a dominant scorer and distributor, but with the likes of Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler in the mix, Chicago is much less reliant on Rose to be an MVP-caliber performer. With Gasol in the middle and Butler on the wing, Rose will have plenty of space to carve up defenses and has the option to either drive and kick or drive and finish hard at the rim.
4. Plenty of Motivation to Prove Doubters Wrong
Rose was roundly criticized early this season for saying that he wanted to be cautious in his return to playing because he wanted to be relatively pain-free after his playing career ends. He had his desire questioned then, and now he has an opportunity to prove all of those critics wrong. A quick return to the floor will show just how much he cares about NBA success, as the playoffs are the true measure of greatness in the NBA. So while he had every right to preach caution in November at the onset of an 82-game season, he now just has to ready himself for a postseason that only requires 16 victories for a championship.
3. Rose Has Too Much Talent
There is simply no doubt that Rose is an immensely talented basketball player, and even after returning from major injuries, Rose has demonstrated that his talent is still plainly evident. Any player with his level of talent is going to be able to find a way to be productive for his team, even in the absence of his previous level of athleticism. Many athletes do not have to make this adjustment until later in their careers, but the best players find ways to be effective as they age or they became affected by injury. Rose has enough talent to remain an exceptionally productive player for many years to come.
2. He’s Still Only 26 Years Old
Rose had a great deal of expectation thrust upon him after becoming the youngest player in the NBA to win an MVP award, and that early-career success has made it easy to forget that Rose is still just 26 years old. This is not like a player in his late-30s making an attempt to come back from injury, this is a player who is still in the prime of his career attempting to overcome a string of unfortunate injuries. At 26, it is much easier for the body to bounce back from injury.
Furthermore, the more time that elapses after the ACL surgery will allow Rose to continue to get stronger and to have more confidence in his body in spite of the recent torn meniscus. After all, this was an injury that had to be somewhat expected given his recent history. He now has an opportunity to put all of this behind him by proving that he can stay healthy following this injury while again becoming the player he once was.
1. Rose Has the Will of a Champion
While he has had his heart somewhat questioned this season, it should be clear to those who have watched Derrick Rose over the course of his career that he has the heart and the will of a champion. As a gifted player with many years of basketball ahead of him, it is simply impossible to believe that Rose will give up because of a slew of frustrating and injury-related setbacks. The Bulls have an opportunity to have a very successful postseason run, and Rose has an opportunity to help the Bulls make it a deep run with a legitimate shot at the championship.
While the team certainly has not looked like a contender recently, Rose’s return and the start of playoff basketball will make the Bulls a troublesome matchup for any team in the Eastern Conference. Coach Tom Thibodeau is known for frustrating playoff opponents with his outstanding defensive schemes, and a Bulls roster that includes Derrick Rose is as talented as any other in the East, and that includes the Cleveland Cavaliers. Simply put, it’s just not a sound idea to bet against Derrick Rose, now or in the future.
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