Before the injuries, before the musical chairs, before the "what if" banter that all too often comes up when talking about Derrick Rose, he was unquestionably one of the league's next big things.
When Rose won the MVP in 2010-11, he did so at the age of just 22, becoming the youngest MVP in league history. Even if he wasn't the best player in the league, there was little doubt that Rose belonged in that same conversation alongside the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.
What if I told you that in the role he's asked to play nearly a decade later, Rose is every bit as good as the explosive point guard who took the league by storm once upon a time.
Let's play a little game here.
Who would you rather have?
Player A is on top, Player B is on bottom.
Regardless of who you ultimately picked, I think we can all agree that they are comparable.
OK well those are per-36 numbers for Derrick Rose.
Player A is Rose from his MVP season in 2010-11.
Player B is Rose this season entering Wednesday.
And that was before he torched the Sacramento Kings for 22 points and 11 assists in just 30 minutes. In a game with rising star De'Aaron Fox, a strong two-way player who might someday be the best point guard in the entire league and a player some thought might contend for an All-Star appearance prior to the start of the season, it was the now 31-year-old Rose who was once again the best player on the floor.
Though he may not be able to consistently deliver while playing 37 minutes a night as he did during that MVP season, Rose is producing on a per-minute basis at a level that's essentially the same as he once did pre-injury, albeit in about 11 fewer minutes per game. While he may not be flying up and down the hardwood with the same level of speed and explosion, Rose is back to driving at will and finishing over defenders with nifty layups and floaters, just as he once did.
He's now scored at least 20 points in 10 straight games and it's well beyond the point of thinking that this is some small sample size fluke.
Wth the trade deadline looming just two weeks away, Rose could be an intriguing piece for a contender looking to add some nice scoring punch off the bench. He's on the hook for $7.3 million this season and $7.7 million next season making him nothing short of a bargain.
Regardless of whether or not he stay in Detroit or moves on elsewhere, it's worth taking some time to appreciate the degree to which Derrick Rose is back to being Derrick Rose.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.