With good reason, Paul George and his horrific injury were the focus after Friday night’s USA basketball exhibition in Las Vegas. That story will reverberate through the NBA for years.
But if Paul George had not been the story, Derrick Rose would have been.
We had told you that this week Rose was getting rave reviews out of Team USA practices.
“Derrick’s played great, not good, and hasn’t held anything back,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
“He’s playing well,” fellow Chicagoan Anthony Davis added. “He’s playing out of his mind. He’s being Derrick Rose.”
Friday night he showed everyone, with quickness and explosion that looked like his old self. He blew by some of the world’s elite players like they were standing still. He was quick end-to-end and showed some nice passing skills as well. He looked like the guy who was the league’s youngest MVP.
All week Rose talked about the maturity of his game now, for example he developed a floater so he wouldn’t have to take the contact going to the rim all the time (after a couple practices he stayed on the court to work on just that shot). He knows he’s got some real talent around him and he doesn’t have to carry the scoring load the same way.
“I’m able to control my body a little bit more, using my speed more, being smart with my speed rather than just running wild out there,” Rose said of his game. “I’’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.”
There was still a little rust on Rose, as is to be expected. But that’s the reason he should be with Team USA this summer, to shake that off and get his confidence back now.
Here’s the key thing, before George went down we were all thinking the same thing: If that Derrick Rose can play 75+ games next season, even if the Cavaliers get Kevin Love to pair with LeBron James and Kyrie they are going to have some serious competition to get out of the East.