The Minnesota Vikings running back recovered from a torn ACL and came back better than ever, winning MVP and challenging for the NFL's single-season rushing record in 2012. He was more explosive, more elusive and arguably even faster than before his injury.
Well, Rose has taken significantly longer to recover from his own ACL tear, but he seems to believe that he too is coming back as a new and improved version. In an interview with Slam Magazine's Adam Figman, the Chicago Bulls point guard spoke about a few aspects of his game.
First, on his strength:
With me, I was always kind of strong, but the way that I play, I hit tricky lay-ups and all of that stuff because going to the hole in my neighborhood, they don’t call any fouls, so I was just used to hitting all types of shots. Now this year, I got a little more strength behind me, so I think going to the hole, taking those shots, I’ll be able to finish a lot stronger this year. There should be a lot more and-1s, hopefully.
Then, on his explosiveness:
I think I’m a lot quicker, a lot more explosive, and I think I’m gonna go this year without that many nagging injuries, just trying to prevent it by stretching and doing all the things I have to do to take care of my body. When you first come in the League and you’re talented and you’re athletic, you don’t care about stretching or anything. You just kind of go out there and overlook that stuff. But now it’s my sixth year, so you really have to look at that and take that more seriously so I can prevent all of the little injuries.
And finally, on his shooting:
I’ve been shooting a lot. A lot. Especially during the ['12-13] season, I’d go out there before games and shoot up a lot of shots. Now you add lifting weights and you’re shooting almost every day, your shot becomes easier, and your confidence grows, and with shooting, there’s nothing like confidence. So I think I’m gonna be a great shooter next year.
So, let me get this straight...
Rose is going to be stronger than before, capable of finishing more plays at the rim, and drawing an even greater number of and-1s. He's going to be more explosive, even though he was already up there with Russell Westbrook as the most athletic point guard in basketball. He's going to be a "great shooter" after years of that emerging as his biggest weakness.
As B/R's Grant Hughes recently wrote, an improved jumper from Rose is key to the Bulls taking that crucial next step. The development of a consistent perimeter game would allow Chicago to "enjoy vastly improved spacing. That would enable the Bulls to do more damage with cutters, on post-ups and in the pick-and-roll."
But it's the other parts of Rose's self-analysis that are even more striking.
I didn't think it was humanly possible for him to get stronger around the basket and more explosive. Quite frankly, I have no idea what that would look like. But if he's right, we may as well start talking about the 2013-14 MVP race as a three-man contest between Rose, LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
That opening game against the Miami Heat is starting to get even more exciting. Is it too early for me to start counting down the minutes?