DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Derrick Rose believes the Chicago Bulls have an advantage over most teams in the NBA heading into the lockout shortened season, and it's not just because of the talent on their roster.
It's because the team has been together and knows what to expect from second-year head coach Tom Thibodeau.
"For sure," Rose said. "Last year, that was our first time coming together. And we made it that far. I think this year, with us being more comfortable with each other, knowing what we can do on the court, where guys are on the court at all times, I think it should help us out at the beginning."
Like many others around the league, Rose wasn't sure there would be a beginning a couple weeks ago. He thought the entire season was going to get canceled because of the ongoing labor dispute.
"For a minute towards the end, yeah," he said. "I think the last meeting, I thought for sure that we weren't going to have a season. But thank God they got a deal done."
Rose couldn't even get into the the Bulls practice facility when he pulled up because he did not have an entry card anymore. Members of the media had to open the front door for him.
"I don't have a key yet," he said. "They locked me out."
Once he got in the door though, the 23-year-old was genuinely happy to be back at work.
"It feels good, knowing that I came back, seeing familiar faces, seeing [the media] is pretty good," he said. "Just seeing some of my teammates ... just greeting people, that's what it's all about. It's a family here."
Rose is clearly trying to take on more of a leadership role this season, a role that Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is anxious for him to grow into even more.
"We're not trying to think about last year," Rose said. "Of course, it was a good season, but it's last year. You never know how it's going to go this year. This year, I'm just trying to be more vocal as a leader."
Six months later, Rose is still taking the blame for the Bulls loss to the Miami Heat in last spring's Eastern Conference finals.
"We were in the games that we lost, but it was on me." he said. "I'm the reason that we lost them games. Little mistakes, turnovers, me not making the extra pass to the open guy. Not having the confidence in my teammates at certain times, making that extra pass. I think that looking at film, I know I saw a lot of open guys, but when you're playing, you really don't see it."
Rose is convinced that he and the Bulls will grow even more after having that experience against the Heat.
"I think that last year is going to help me grow more this year as a player more mentality," he said. "Where as a player, I'll know what to do. Hopefully by me looking at film and studying and everything, when I get in those situations again, it will be totally different."