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Even before the season began, Derrick Rose announced that he was a better player than he had been before his injury, surgery, and rehab, adding that his basketball IQ was higher. Given that he missed the entire 2012-13 campaign, and that Wednesday night’s loss to Indiana was only Chicago’s (and Rose’s) fourth game of the season, it’s still meaningful to take an in-depth look at where Rose is now.

OFFENSE

After nailing his first three shots, Rose was 3-12 from the field; an indication that his stamina is an issue. Which is certainly understandable.

Most of his jumpers in the first half resulted when he scooted around two staggered picks on the weakside, then either received a direct pass or a hand-off pass. Hit-or-miss, the pull-up jumpers these maneuvers created looked smooth. Not so his treys (1-5), where his release was somewhat herky-jerky. Two of his long-range misses pronged off the front rim, another sure sign of fatigue.

In the second half, Rose’s attack opportunities most came from picks set for him high on the left wing. This allowed Rose to take his right hand to the middle where his still dynamic right-to-left crossovers were effective. One such move was preceded by a superb hesitation move that left his defender flat-footed and produced a three-point play the hard way.

In the past, Rose had a super-quick first step, but his transcendent edge was the quickness of his second step. Against the Pacers, his second step was a mite less explosive. Could this be the lingering aftermath of his injury?

Rose recorded only two assists, but he should have had two more when teammates missed a pair of chippies that his slick passes generated.

One of his four turnovers came when Rose committed a cardinal sin – passing while airborne. Another TO was caused on an errant pass when a teammate zigged and Rose anticipated that he’d zag. Give him a TO when Rose foolishly tried to split a double-team, and his fourth came when he was surprised by being two-timed.

After a year’s absence, Rose certainly has some rust that has to be ground away. And, except for his faulty mechanics on his long-distant dialing, all of his miscues on offense are fixable.

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DEFENSE

In a word, Rose’s defense was awful.

He routinely turned his head but was only burned once when CJ Watson made a nifty backdoor cut and turned a pass into an uncontested layup.

Rose was too passive when dealing with weakside picks, leaving his man wide open or else committing a catch-up foul.

In one early-offense situation, Rose was lifted by a rather ordinary fake by Watson and committed a foul when he landed. Also, Rose’s inattention to court balance was demonstrated when he twice allowed Watson to run out after the Pacers rebounded a Bulls miss. On the second occasion, Rose was whistled for a costly clear-path foul.

Rose was placed in a single iso-situation, but as he was guarding the 6-foot-8 Paul George on a switch, he had to bull-up and was therefore easily beaten by a spin move.

Overall, his offense in this particular game gave hints of his return to glory. However, while Rose has never been accused of being a defensive whiz, his lackluster effort on the uphill end of the game still needs major surgery.

For sure, Rose has a long way to go before he approaches the baseline-to-baseline brilliance he exhibited before his injury. Fortunately, the young man has an admirable work ethic and Chicago’s season likewise has a long way to go. Meanwhile, with Rose still getting re-acclimated to NBA action, the Bulls will struggle.