CHICAGO -- It has taken Derrick Rose more than a year to recover from the physical effects of a torn ACL in his knee, but his mentality appears to be in midseason form.
When asked by CNN's Pedro Pinto in an interview who the best player in the NBA is right now, the former MVP did not hesitate with his answer.
"Derrick Rose," the 24-year-old said confidently.
The fact that Rose responded that way won't surprise those close to him. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Gar Forman both said recently that the star point guard is feeling great and is ready to start the season.
"There will be an adjustment period, but I'm not anticipating there being any problems," Thibodeau, in an interview with ESPNChicago.com last week during the Las Vegas Summer League, said of getting Rose back into the swing of things during the preseason. "His overall strength is terrific. He's put a lot of work into his body. I know he's anxious to get out there and play. He's played some pickup but not a lot, but he feels great, and that's the most important thing."
Thibodeau also noted that Rose likely would play the regular starters' minutes during the preseason.
"We'll see once we get to training camp, and we're going to have an opportunity to get some work done in the fall, but we have to keep in mind he's been out an extended amount of time," Thibodeau said. "So the preseason -- and we look at training camp as the entire month, not just a week -- we'll move him along accordingly. We'll see what he can handle. I think there's going to be some rust initially, but I fully expect him to get back to [being] the player we all know that he is."
There's obviously no doubt in Rose's mind that he can return to being that player. Rose did acknowledge in the CNN interview that the toughest person to guard in the league is four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion LeBron James.
"I would have to say LeBron," Rose said. "A 6-foot-8 guy that's 250 [pounds]. What do you think?"