Nicolò Melli Pelicans Season in Review

Nicolò Melli Pelicans Season in Review | 2019-20

by Jim Eichenhofer
  • Age 29
  • Experience One season (one with Pelicans)
  • Games Played/Games Started 60/8

Unless you’re an avid Euroleague aficionado and enjoy staying up until 3 a.m. to watch basketball, you were probably like many New Orleans fans and media members at the outset of the 2019-20 season in terms of your familiarity with Nicolò Melli. That is, you knew very little about him. On a roster filled with former Duke Blue Devils such as Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, as well as products of marquee NCAA programs including UCLA, Kentucky and Villanova, Melli is the only Pelican who did not play college ball in the U.S. He also didn’t produce gaudy stats overseas, averaging 7.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in ’18-19 Euroleague competition.

It took some time for Melli to adjust to the NBA, but during New Orleans’ late-December through mid-March surge, it became apparent why the Pelicans were so eager to add the decade-plus veteran of overseas hoops. The Italy native shot just 31 percent from three-point range through Dec. 31 and was sporadically out of the rotation, but bumped that up to 40 percent over the next three months. His individual improvement coincided with that of Pelicans reserves, helping New Orleans go 21-13 after a 7-23 start.

    Nicolò Melli Per-Game Stats from 2019-20 NBA Season

  • Minutes 17.4
  • Field Goal % 42.1
  • Three Point % 33.5
  • Free Throw % 74
  • Points 6.6
  • Rebounds 3
  • Assists 1.4
  • Steals 0.6
  • Blocks 0.4

The Orlando bubble brought more of Melli mirroring the results of the team overall, however, with him slumping from the arc (4 of 26), but he entered the offseason encouraged about the future.

"I always say that this team is a deep team (with) a lot of talent, young players with a lot of energy,” Melli said. “So I think we have everything to do something good here."

Nicolò Melli | By The Numbers

  • 18

    Games Melli registered double-digit scoring. In yet another example of how the 6-foot-9 forward served as a barometer for New Orleans’ results as a team, the Pelicans went 13-5 in those games. All five of those losses were vs. high-caliber competition (Lakers twice, Toronto, Houston, Miami).

  • 17

    Games Melli pulled down at least five rebounds. New Orleans was 11-6 in those instances, with the defeats coming almost exclusively against elite opponents. The Pelicans were also 13-6 when he sank at least two three-pointers.

  • 9

    Out of Melli’s top 11 scoring games this season, nine occurred on the road. Perhaps it was due to the fits-and-starts nature of an odd ’19-20, but he never quite got into a groove at the Smoothie King Center, frequently performing better in road contests. He’ll have a chance to become more comfy in the Big Easy next season, in the latter half of a two-year contract.

Nicolò Melli | Most Notable Games from 2019-20 NBA Season

  • #1, Feb. 23, New Orleans 115, Golden State 101

    We reached “Peak Melli” when he began this game 6/6 from three-point range, finally missing a trey attempt in the second half en route to a 6/7 performance. He equaled a career high in scoring by delivering 20 points in just 23 minutes, adding five rebounds and a block.

  • #2, Jan. 13, New Orleans 117, Detroit 110 (OT)

    Making his first start since Nov. 8, Melli helped lead an undermanned Pelicans squad – which only had nine players available – to a hard-fought victory. Joined in a one-time-only starting five that also included Josh Hart, E’Twaun Moore and Jahlil Okafor, Melli dropped in 20 points on 7/11 shooting. New Orleans was plus-18 with him on the floor.

  • #3, Jan. 20, New Orleans 126, Memphis 116

    One of Melli’s best all-around outings featured 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks. He accumulated those 15 points on 6/11 shooting at FedEx Forum, including knocking down three three-pointers.

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