I almost consider it encouraging if it's been acting up that long, since he's looked fine in terms of explosiveness. It's not anything like he looked in the weeks returning from an ankle injury to start last season. And since Rose doesn't expect to miss any time in the season-long grind, it's not going away.
But if this is a diminished Rose, I'll still happily take it: even after struggling with his shooting in Monday's win over the Nuggets, Rose did what so few players can: take over late possessions to create. They pulled out that win because of him.
I missed more interesting Rose-quotes earlier in the week in this Rick Morrissey column (so you can understand why I missed it), where Rose both laments his already-diminished athleticism ("his vertical jump has fallen 3 inches") and cites the need to start drawing contact.
That's great to hear (maybe not the vertical part, but again: he sure looks fine in that department). It's been great to hear him open up as a whole this season, from his 'why not us?' response to the 2010 dud to his self-started campaign for MVP.
I don't worry about him becoming too mouthy, an especially silly notion when an issue with his first couple seasons was not talking enough, or at least not emphatically taking leadership of the team. Those days are over. That's improvement.
And his game is improving too. He is getting to the foul line more. He is working harder on the defensive end. And as said above, the hard part is getting him to own late-game posessions and win close games, and he's been doing that already.
But he's not an MVP candidate, not the best PG in the league (ahem, Chauncey Billups), and yes, it's an argument as to his ranking right now amongst that next tier with Rondo and Westbook. And that's fine too. He doesn't have to be all that right now. While ultimately the Bulls future title hopes likely require Rose to be one of the best players in the league, he doesn't have to be this season. He can say it, and I'm happy he does. But I more look forward to being shown it, whenever it happens in his career.