On a United States team that has lost Paul George to injury and seen the likes of Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge pull out for various reasons – mostly contract related – Derrick Rose is one of the few elite players that remains on the roster.
After missing an exhibition game against the Dominican Republic, Rose took the court against Puerto Rico, just his second game in 9 months. The Bulls star came off the bench, playing with an energy that became infectious, while contributing six points and four assists in about 13 minutes of action.
Chris Strauss of USA Today, quoted James Harden as describing Rose’s presence on the team in the following manner: “Derrick brings something that we don’t have as far as being able to push the ball so fast and get into the paint, and (he’s) so athletic. He made a couple cross-court passes for open threes. He looked phenomenal.”
The U.S. doesn’t figure to face much of a challenge in pool play, and the former MVP can utilize those games in order to work back into playing condition. Rose seems poised to do this while coming off the bench, behind starters Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry. Perhaps that will change as he continues to get more comfortable.
Regardless, on a United States team that is lacking its usual star power, there is a belief that Rose will not only stay healthy but that he will play up to his all star pedigree.
“He says he feels great and that there’s not going to be any issues going forward. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said. So we’re going with it. We’re riding with that.”
They could have kept Damian Lillard as an insurance policy, in case Rose did get injured. Instead Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski have opted to go big, keeping Andre Drummond on the final roster. The U.S. also has depth on the wings, including Klay Thompson, Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan, should Rose or one of the starting guards go down.