It’s the moment all Chicago Bulls fans have been waiting for since February 27th…Derrick Rose is set to make his return to the court. After a six-week absence, Rose will play tonight when Chicago travels to Orlando for a late-season tilt with the Magic. Coach Tom Thibodeau stated that he will likely be limited to around 20 minutes but any time on the floor is a welcome sight for everyone invested in the organization.
Rose’s latest return comes at the most opportune time for the Bulls, who are in a fight to stave off Toronto for the 3-seed in the East (currently lead by 1 game). By now, opponents know that Chicago is not a true contender without their star point guard. Even though he has battled injury all year long, the threat of him being out there significantly alters the gameplan.
Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and shooters like Mike Dunleavy Jr. & Tony Snell become much more dangerous with Rose’s presence. Outside of being a true shot creator, his “quiet confidence” is adored and admired by teammates to the point where they always vehemently defend him against doubters.
A healthy D. Rose elevates the Bulls to greater heights. With him in the lineup, they are better in transition (12.4 ppg from 8.5 ppg), point differential, and, perhaps most importantly, matchup better with contenders like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks. And with the steady play from Gasol, Noah and Butler, Rose has the luxury of easing back into his role as a scorer and faciliator.
The last week and a half of the regular season will likely spell out how far the Bulls are able to advance in the postseason. A rested Rose, barring any setbacks, could prove to be the difference for Chicago to make a deep playoff run. And if he gets anywhere near his MVP form, the rest of the conference is in trouble.
A renewed sense of hope and energy is back in the Second City, something that was in doubt once the news of his latest setback came about. No crazier ending could be written if D. Rose and the Bulls eventually hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in June.
For now, that’s a long way off. The focus is on assimilating Rose back into the lineup and developing enough rhythm before the regular season is over. But no matter where Chicago ends up, one thing is certain: the NBA is a lot better off with Chicago’s hometown hero lacing them up.