Nicolo Melli, who performed well in a Fenerbahçe Beko jersey, signed with the New Orleans Pelicans, one of the NBA teams, the other day. Let’s take a look at the specifics of Melli, another player who got a chance in the NBA under the management of Zeljko Obradovic.
Some Stats Information
Point Avg: 7.3
Assits Avg: 1.5
Rebound Avg: 4.7
Three Point Avg:%38.7
FG Avg: %47.5
FT Avg: %81.6
Steal Avg: 0.8
Block Avg: 0.5
Nicolo Melli is a 6’9’’, 235 pound ‘modern game’ power forward. Because he has an impressive three-point shot and a moving drive. If you follow European basketball, you absolutely know who Nicolo Melli. If you don’t follow European, probably have never heard of him. The 28-year old Italian star has been a major contributor for Fenerbahçe Beko over the last two seasons, helping take them to back-to-back Euroleague F4. And now his help create space for new NBA star Zion Williamson to do Zion Madness. Let’s take a look at his game.
He is really fast. Despite being a player in the Big category, he has incredible speed. In open field attacks, he can be moved to the opposing field the ball. If he’s caught the miss match, he’s going over his opponent to score. If he’s under pressure, he makes the right pass choice to score for his team. His foot and hand speed are effective when doing defense. He is able to defend against the guards after the pick and roll. He’s also going to the top in the wake of Pick and pop, powering the team defense. That speed in Zeljko Obradovic’s pass sets made him special. Given that the New Orleans Pelicans need pace & space, Melli is an ideal piece for them.
Power is the problem for Melli. In fact the Italian star has good physics power. But he’s hard to use sometimes. In PF/C games, it is easier to penetrate the basket after the screen comes to him; if he is going to penetrate one-on-one, his work is difficult. Given the NBA’s physical defenders, Melli will need to use his physique. But this is a bit difficult. From a defensive point of view, he doesn’t have much of a problem about power. Because he is very SMART. He’s got incredible game intelligence. He shows a great defensive performance against both long and short players. So the strength is no problem for the Italian star on defence.
Wow. The shot is Melli’s highlight. Italian star primary value will come from spacing, as he has been a %38.2 3-point shooter over the past six years in Euroleague. An adept shooter forward from the wings and on pick-and-pop games, Melli provides a great spacing threat that, with the gravity Williamson should command as a pick and roll games roll man, will help create some pace&space within the New Orleans Pelicans’ offense on the types of actions see below.
Extra passes will be a crucial plus when Zion Williamson pulls over the help defence with the drive threat eventually goes the ball Nicolo Melli. He’s an good screen set player, technically skilled at springing guards or short forwards to the rim and then relocating to the three point line. Horns sets with Melli and Zion should be lethal, using Melli’s shooting threat and Zion’s roll gravity to open up plenty of options on offense.
His shot mechanics are immaculate. He takes the ball out of his hands, not too late or too early. He also shoots from long range. After taking on close-outs, he does not hesitate to shoot of help defense.
Besides the three point, he is also good at mid-range. If he doesn’t get the shot acceleration he wants in the top position, he use to stop jump shoot after the drive.
We need to detail his intelligence in defence a little bit more. After the opposing team plays pick and roll, Melli is able to stay against the guard. In doing so, he opens his arms at the right angle. So he’s blocking his opponent’s driveways. 6 foot 9 Italian star then never fails in the switch defence as the opposing team passes. So he makes it hard for the opponent to find a space.
Melli is an incredible ball-dispatcher on offense. If short players were unable to create the drive or shoot option they wanted, Melli takes the ball and opens up the court geometry on behalf of his team. He is able to send the ball from the left drive zone for the only remaining center in the painted area or he adds speed by dribbling the ball around the forwards.
Both high post and low post are effective. His playing intelligence stands out in that. After getting the ball in baseline, he takes his opponent on his back and waits. After a few bounces he curls into the basket or fadeaway shoots with giving good fake in the right place.
I had a chance to talk to him a couple of times. He really has an incredible intimacy. He treats everyone well and reflects that on the pitch as well. He’s a “cold killer” against opponents on the field but there’s always respect. It’s possible to see him talking to coach Zeljko Obradovic often when he comes to the bench. The lessons he took from him are reflected on the court after a few offenses. No matter the score, he’s not a demoraliser in the team. Melli is such a basketball player character. He has an incredible leadership trait, on-court encouragement and off-court joy.
The NBA adjustment could always be a bit of an issue for him, but he proved he could fade into the background when needed in two years at Fenerbahçe Beko. He’s a player with a skill set well suited to compliment an elite athletic talent. Melli is a player who can give a good effort to the team in the 10-15 minute range. The NBA’s pace and physical defenders are a problem, of course. But his game intelligence, shoot ability and athleticism skills are enough to solve this problem.