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updated: 10/24/2010 8:33 PM

Some answers for the Bulls' playing time questions

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The Bulls began final preparations for Wednesday's season opener in Oklahoma City, and two of the last players to leave the gym following Sunday's practice were C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer.

While Watson shot dozens of 3-pointers, Brewer worked with assistant coach Adrian Griffin on his shooting form, post-up moves and attacking the basket. Griffin even brought out the hand-held dummy to simulate contact on the way to the rim.

New coach Tom Thibodeau is in a tough spot when it comes to developing a player rotation for the regular season, because Brewer and Watson two players who seemed certain to be in it struggled during the preseason.

Meanwhile, some guys who figured to blend in on the end of the bench, such as James Johnson, Brian Scalabrine and Keith Bogans, did well in the warmup games.

Bogans didn't play a ton of minutes in the preseason but ended up starting every game after Brewer missed the first two weeks of training camp with a hamstring injury.

The leaner, lighter Johnson has improved defensively and finished the preseason with a flurry, knocking down 9 straight shots over the course of two games.

Scalabrine had the look of a steady veteran instead of a garbage-time specialist. The former Celtic shot 56.3 percent in the preseason and filled in as an emergency power forward several times.

"Usually over the course of a season, everyone will get an opportunity," Thibodeau said Sunday at the Berto Center. "This was good that a lot of players were able to get an opportunity to play. We felt going in that one of our strengths is our bench."

OK, but how should the Bulls line up in Oklahoma City? Thibodeau wasn't ready to divulge any answers, saying he wants to study different combinations in practice the next two days. So here are a few ideas:

Brewer needs to start at shooting guard.

If the Bulls want to give Brewer a little more time to get his legs under him after the late start to training camp, that's fine. But the 6-foot-7 former Utah starter is really the only man for the job. He's capable of bringing defense, offense, athleticism and has the size to guard anyone.

Bogans shot 50 percent from 3-point range in the preseason, which is an asset Brewer doesn't bring. But while Bogans is the guy who won't hurt you if he needs to start, he's not really a starter.

The Bulls can let Watson find his comfort level.

Watson needs to play in every game, because he's the backup point guard. Realistically, Derrick Rose will log 38 to 40 minutes a night and if Watson's shooting touch doesn't improve, the Bulls can keep him strictly as Rose's backup.

Kyle Korver shot the lights out early in the preseason and seems ready to excel at a scoring role off the bench. He had a setback recently with a cyst in his left ankle but is getting healthier.

The Bulls shouldn't bury Johnson on the bench.

After struggling at the Las Vegas summer league, Johnson seems very serious about correcting his flaws. It started by dropping weight, so he'd have a better chance of guarding the quicker small forwards. He's also shown a little more game savvy and shooting touch to go with his impressive jumping ability.

No sense stunting his growth now. At the start of training camp, Johnson was a strong candidate to sit out most of the time, but the Bulls will benefit if he continues to develop.

They have until Sunday to decide whether or not to pick up the third year on his rookie contract, which is starting to look like a sure thing.

Even with Carlos Boozer sidelined by a broken hand, the Bulls look solid with their returning nucleus of Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. The bench shouldn't make or break the season but can make a difference during the rough early schedule.

"We're going to still evaluate the next couple of days, but I have some pretty good thoughts about what I want to do," Thibodeau added.

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