Bulls guard Derrick Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP who missed most of the past two seasons, told reporters after his first practice with USA Basketball that his confidence is "through the roof" -- and that's good news for the Chicago Bulls. Rose's play may not live up to his words, but if he makes Team USA's roster for the FIBA World Cup (Aug. 30-Sept. 14), it could still be a big win for the Bulls as they prepare for the 2014-15 season.
Here's a look at how Rose's play with Team USA would likely benefit coach Tom Thibodeau & Co.
Tentative Rose typical of ACL return
Our last memory of Rose on the court is him struggling through the first 10 games of the 2013-14 season before suffering a torn meniscus on Nov. 22 at Portland. Surgery to repair the meniscus ended Rose's campaign, leaving him with negative wins above replacement player (WARP) by my rating system.
However, in the context of his recovery from the torn ACL that kept him off the court for all of 2012-13, Rose's performance looks much more normal. While my research has shown that players perform only slightly worse the season after suffering an ACL injury, looking at the schedule as a whole doesn't tell the entire story.
Instead, the numbers show that players coming back from ACL injuries are at their worst in their first handful of games on the court before quickly improving back to near normal. This shows up most dramatically in terms of shooting percentage, which was Rose's biggest issue. During his first four seasons, Rose made 48.9 percent of his 2-point attempts. In the 10 games he played last season, he shot just 35.9 percent on 2s.
On average, as the chart at right shows, players coming back from ACL injuries shoot 5.4 percent worse on 2-pointers over their first 10 games than their projection from my SCHOENE projection system, which uses performance over the previous three seasons adjusted for the development of similar players at the same age. They shoot about as well as expected from beyond the arc, which is also consistent with Rose, who made a career-best 34 percent of his 3-pointers in 2013-14.
Improvement comes quickly for post-ACL players. While they still shoot much worse than expected on 2-pointers over their next 10 games, from games 21 to 30 they're just 1.6 percent worse than expected. And by games 31 to 40, they actually surpass their season projections.