LAS VEGAS—After his first time playing in a competitive setting publicly since Nov. 22, Derrick Rose was asked about his health, mentality and overall well-being.
A more overtly confident version of Rose was the obvious takeaway, but while the immediate future is centered upon his play during USA Basketball’s training camp on the campus of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas—and assuming he makes the team, how he performs during the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Madrid—as the Bulls’ most talented and highest-paid player, after playing just 10 games over the past two seasons, looming in the background is the 2014-15 NBA campaign.
Rose’s trademark has always been his explosiveness, but the 25-year-old explained that with his time away from the game, some on-court maturity has occurred.
“I think you will see that next year. Just trying to keep people off my body. Using a lot of floaters, using a lot of pull-ups, stuff like that, so I won’t get touched as much,” Rose said. “I’m a totally different player. It comes with experience, just playing through your mistakes. Just playing in an NBA game, you’re going to learn. So I’m happy that I had people around me to give me advice, learn from people and I’m happy I have the I.Q. to actually learn.
“Jump shots, floaters, just everything. Just trying to find ways to make the game easy. Trying to sharpen up every area of my game and really become a leader by being vocal,” he continued. “Body control. I’m able to control my body a little bit more, using my speed more. Being smart with my speed, instead of just running wild out there and being smart, becoming a smarter player. But I’m mad it took seven years to learn.”
Still, Rose insisted that there will still be signs of the highlight-reel player he was.
“If you’re right there and I’ve got a dunk, I don’t care,” he said. “My legs are healthy, so I’m not worried about injuring myself or anything. I’m just trying to do anything to win that game at that time.”
But with the Bulls’ new personnel, the point guard could find himself playing off the ball on occasion, playing alongside veteran floor general Kirk Hinrich and newly-acquired point guard Aaron Brooks, as the team will look to be more offensively-balanced, taking advantage of its diverse weapons.
“Catch-and-shoot, hell yeah. I’ve been doing a lot of catch-and-shoot, running off floppy, just trying to make the game simple. Find ways to score or find ways to affect the game without scoring and me playing the two sometimes, coming off a floppy, catching the ball, getting to the hole, throwing oops, getting other people open with just a live dribble. I think this year is the first time that I’ll play, the most in my career, with catching the ball and having a live dribble,” Rose explained. “I wouldn’t say that we’re trying to copy the Spurs. It’s kind of hard to copy that because they’re just a great team, but if we can get close to it—if we can just find ways to win the game our way, I think that we’ll be fine and with the coaching staff that we have, Thibs, he finds ways to win. So it’s really the players, how bad we want to win those games.”