Derrick Rose is healthy.
Two games into FIBA World Cup pool play, and the face of the Bulls franchise is without a noticeable limp.
That’s the good news. Great news, actually.
Is he the player that had spectators oohing and aahing at the start of the USA Basketball trials in Las Vegas in late July? No, but that doesn’t diminish his last five weeks.
This always has been about building a mindset for Rose, letting him know he still can dominate.
He did that in Las Vegas and even into Chicago early on before “fatigue’’ sidelined him for a few practices and an exhibition game in New York.
With the lights on in Game 1 Saturday against Finland, however, Rose scored 12 points, had a memorable crossover and explosive two-handed slam and played a team-high 22-plus minutes. So we’ll give him a mulligan for the follow-up Sunday against Turkey.
Let’s call it a bad day at the office in his first real back-to-back games since he played in Denver last Nov. 21, then in Portland. Rose tore his meniscus in that loss to the Trail Blazers and was out for the season.
If there’s one concern for Rose, it’s ball security. He leads Team USA with seven turnovers in two games, but that can easily be corrected.
Back in 2010 when Rose played for Team USA, he averaged 8.1 points and had turnover problems, as well. By the end of the 2010-11 season for the Bulls, he was named MVP.
For Rose, there are more important issues than numbers in this tournament, and that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Anthony Davis — Chicago’s very own big man has been the breakout player of the summer for the U.S. squad. The Pelicans star is leading the team in scoring at 18 points per game and is averaging five rebounds. His ability to protect the rim has intimidated opponents, but the ultimate test awaits. Davis might have to deal with Spain’s big men, including new Bull Pau Gasol.
Kenneth Faried — The rest of the world is seeing what the Nuggets have known for years: The “Manimal’’ is a star in the making. With Team USA short on big men this summer, Faried has played like a man possessed on the glass.
James Harden — The Rockets shooting guard actually has switched roles a bit and has been the United States’ best playmaker, leading the team with 10 assists and seven steals. Who knew Harden and defense could ever be mentioned in the same sentence?
Stephen Curry — The Warriors guard was supposed to be the outside threat that made it OK to say goodbye to Kyle Korver, but he has been forcing shots and is only 3-for-11 from three-point range.
Rose — Besides those seven turnovers, he stayed on the bench in the third quarter against Turkey and seemed lost against a matchup zone.
Andre Drummond — The Pistons center only played in the first game. He could be a key player when Team USA faces an opponent with a strong frontcourt, but his spot could have been used on another outside shooter.