Derrick Rose admits that there were times when he didn’t know what he was doing on an NBA court.
That didn’t stop him from being named MVP in 2011 and leading the Bulls to the Eastern Conference finals.
So two knee surgeries later, what will his hometown fans see when Rose takes the court Saturday night at the United Center for Team USA?
“My game is totally different,’’ Rose said Friday. “When I came back last time, I was just trying to get into a groove. I felt a nice little groove, and my confidence is high right now. Even playing in that game [against Brazil], you’ll be able to see it by the way I attack the players defensively and by the way I just play offensively, just not rushing anything.’’
But it’s more than that.
Rose is up to 209 pounds, his body fat is 4.5 percent, and at least in that first intrasquad game with Team USA in Las Vegas two weeks ago, he looked quicker than even before his knees betrayed him.
Whether that display of speed was an illusion was up for debate, but there’s no questioning that Rose now has an understanding of how to use it.
“I wouldn’t say quicker,’’ Rose said when asked if he felt he was faster than before the injury problems. “I would say I’m able to control it a little bit more, like I said a couple of days ago, using it at the right time.
“When I was out there when I was younger, I used to be just running crazy because I didn’t know how fast I was. So I was using it for no reason, just mindless. Now that I know I have it, and I know that I have other skills that I’ve been working on, I can really control the game and control what I’m doing when I’m out there just playing.’’
Team USA plans to take advantage of that during the FIBA World Cup in Spain, which begins Aug. 30, but the Bulls will be the biggest beneficiary when the NBA season kicks off late in October.
“He’s probably changing speeds a little bit better,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said when asked if he felt Rose was quicker. “Again, it’s a short sample size, but the big thing is his approach is great.
“Just be patient, and I think that’s what he’s shown more than in the past. His patience is better. That will serve him well.’’
Being a veteran of USA Basketball compared to his previous stint in 2010, Rose has taken on the responsibility of being a better leader, a talent he plans to carry into the new season.
“For me, this is my chance to actually become a better leader and more vocal in the locker room, more vocal on the floor,’’ Rose said. “[Saturday] starts all that. It’s a huge journey for me. I’m not trying to shy away from it. It’s going to help me with becoming a leader with the Bulls. It’s going to help me have a better relationship with my teammates. I’ve always had a good relationship, but being vocal and always talking to them, it should be even better.’’