Should the 76ers draft the best player available at the position they need or the best player available and figure out what to do with him later?

Until yesterday, when the Sixers worked out 7-foot center B.J. Mullens and 6-7 guard Ryan Ayers at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Sixers had filled their predraft workouts with point guards and shooting guards and repeatedly said they would likely draft a perimeter player with their only pick (17th overall) in Thursday's draft.

But Mullens might change the situation. He played one season at Ohio State. He is likely to be gone by the time the Sixers draft, but if he is still on the board, the Sixers might face an unexpected decision.

They could pick Mullens and keep him. They could pick him and trade a current player. They could pick him and trade him for a guard.

"We don't expect him - from a probability standpoint - to be available at 17, but we have to be prepared," said Courtney Witte, the Sixers' director of player personnel.

Witte said that "scenarios have developed lately" where Mullens could still be available at the 17th pick. NBADraft.net has reported that the Detroit Pistons, who select 15th, have promised Mullens to draft him if he is still on the board, but pre-draft promises sometimes don't pan out.

"Our philosophy has always been to look for the best player available," Witte said. "We wanted to get a closer look" at Mullens.

If the Sixers draft Mullens that would add another big man to a roster loaded with big men: starting center Samuel Dalembert, backup center Jason Smith, emerging rookie Marreese Speights.

Would the Sixers consider drafting Mullens and moving another player?

"We obviously think about that," Witte said.

Mullens, 20, started playing basketball late and would need at least a couple of seasons to fully develop, although he is athletic and has a nice outside shot - similar to Smith.

"I'm just trying to get a workout in and get my name out there, even if they're looking at a guard," said Mullens, who has worked out for eight or nine teams. "I want to get every team to talk about B.J. Mullens."

Ayers, who played four seasons at Notre Dame and is the son of former Sixers head coach Randy Ayers, is a long shot to be drafted.

Witte said that Ayers, who graduated from Germantown Academy, has an NBA skill: outside shooting.

"Ryan has a chance in a couple of years," Witte said, adding that if Ayers goes overseas or to the NBA's development league and continues to work on his game, he might be able to make an NBA roster in two or three years.

"It feels good to be back home," Ayers said of working out at PCOM, where the Sixers practice. "I'm familiar with this area, with this gym . . . If I don't get drafted I'd love to be on a summer league team."

Witte said the Sixers did not have any more workouts scheduled, although there is time for a few more if needed. He said the Sixers' scouting staff was in town.

"Now we sit down and go over the fine details," Witte said.

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.