Melli with Fenerbahçe in 2018
|No. 20 – New Orleans Pelicans|
|Position||Power forward / Center|
|Born||January 26, 1991|
Reggio Emilia, Italy
|Nationality||Italian / American|
|Listed height||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)|
|Listed weight||235 lb (107 kg)|
|NBA draft||2013 / Undrafted|
|2019–present||New Orleans Pelicans|
|Career highlights and awards|
Nicolò Melli (born January 26, 1991) is an Italian professional basketball player for the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He also represents the senior Italian national team. He mainly plays at the power forward position, but he has also played at center. Melli earned an All-EuroLeague Second Team selection in 2017.
- 1 Youth career
- 2 Professional career
- 3 National team career
- 4 Career statistics
- 5 Personal life
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Reggio Emilia native started his career with home town side Pallacanestro Reggiana. After an accumulation of injuries Melli was called up to train with the senior team in October 2004, at only 13. He sat on the bench during a 24 October league game (an age record) though he did not play and returned to the youth teams afterwards.
In October 2006 he participated in the Italian leg of the Jordan Classic Camp international tour, regrouping a selection of the thirty most promising under-16 players, with the MVP earning a trip to the American edition of the camp. Melli was selected as co-MVP, meeting Michael Jordan and going to the U.S. in April 2007. He talked of recruiting interest from American college UCLA during the same period.
In August 2007, he signed a five-year professional contract with Pallacanestro Reggiana and started training with the first team. The same year, in October, the 16-year-old debuted in the Italian national second division LegaDue. In May 2008, during the promotion semifinals against Aurora Basket Jesi, he replaced injured starter Benjamin Ortner and contributed 16 points and 15 rebounds in a losing effort. He finished the season playing an average of 10.6 minutes with 3.4 points and 2.9 rebounds.
During the off-season, the 17-year-old participated in the Reebok Eurocamp in Treviso but did not make an impression on observers (albeit playing against older players, sometimes by five years). He also returned to the U.S., attending the Adidas Nations that pitted international teams of promising youngsters. Though he was praised by an observer for his work ethic, it was also noted that his game (and lack of athleticism) was unsuited to the American game.
Melli started the next season in great form, with 12 points and 18 rebounds followed by 24 points in two games, however, on 21 December 2008, Melli suffered a serious knee injury. Scans revealed an anterior cruciate ligament injury on his left knee, requiring surgery and at least five months of rehabilitation though he would be able to continue his career.
On the radar of strong sides for some time, Melli joined Armani Jeans Milano, of the elite domestic Serie A and European EuroLeague in July 2010, signing a four-year deal. After struggling to earn minutes, Melli was loaned to fellow Serie A side Scavolini-Siviglia Pesaro in February 2011. A month later he returned to Milan, to take part in the Italian All Star Game where he contributed 12 points for Italy. Melli finished the 2010–11 season with 3.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 16 minutes per game for Pesaro (compared with 9 minutes for Milan previously).
The next season saw Melli accrue slightly more playing time but despite some highlights, such as a team-high 17 points in a EuroLeague Group G defeat against UNICS Kazan, he finished the regular season with 3.4 points and 2.7 rebounds in 11 minutes per game (Serie A) and 3.8 points and 1.9 rebounds in 9 minutes per game (EuroLeague). He had more impact in the Serie A playoffs, including decisive performances in the semifinal game 3 against former side Pesaro (5 points in 19 minutes and a good defensive performance, with 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block) and then in game 4 of the finals against future champions Montepaschi Siena where he was part of a second-half fightback to win the game, finishing with 11 points and 4 rebounds in 13 minutes.
In 2012–13, Melli increased his averages to 5.8 points and 4.1 rebounds (Serie A), 4.6 points and 3 rebounds (EuroLeague), and his minutes to respectively 17 and 15 in a season nearly devoid of highlights both personally and for Milan (eliminated in the domestic quarterfinals and the EuroLeague regular season). An exception was his third successive participation in the December Italian league All-Star Game, in which he top-scored along with Milan teammate Alessandro Gentile (18 points), adding a game-best 10 rebounds. During the summer, he worked out with a number of NBA sides, with an observer commenting that he seemed too light physically for the league, he would go undrafted in the 2013 NBA draft.
2013–14 proved to be Melli's breakthrough season, with his good performances becoming more regular as he cemented his place in Milan's starting five. The first of those decisive contributions came in Milan's second EuroLeague game of the season against Žalgiris, where Melli scored a career-high 20 points, adding 9 rebounds and 2 steals in 25 minutes to earn a PIR of 28. During the decisive 74-73 victory against Brose Bamberg in the penultimate group stage game, he defended Wright as he missed the Brose's last shot which allowed Milan to progress to the Top 16. Though he lad less impact further on as Milan reached the EuroLeague quarterfinals, Melli finished with respectable averages of 5.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.9 steals in around 21 minutes in the competition.
Domestically, he regularly posted scored in double figures, including a career-high 24 points against Roma, put against more average games he finished with 6.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in a career-high 21 minutes. Discarding the statistics, Melli had crucial contributions during the Serie A playoffs, starting with 18 points in 22 minutes in the first game against Pistoia. After starting the finals series against defending champions Montepaschi Siena with some off-games Melli exploded in the final two games. In the do-or-die game 6, with Milan trailing, he scored two successive three-pointers to regain the lead before adding a steal and a number of decisive rebounds as Milan won the game to earn a game 7 decider. In that game, he contributed 11 points and a career-high 13 rebounds as Milan won to become Italian champions for the first time in 18 years.
In July 2014, his contract with Milan was extended for another year. The season proved more difficult for both parties, Melli had an unremarkable season (5.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in the EuroLeague, 5.6 and 4.3 in Serie A) as Milan were stopped in the Italian playoff semifinals in their title defense and stalled in the EuroLeague Top 16.
Melli moved abroad in July 2015, signing with German side Brose Bamberg for two years. He cited Brose's strong pursuit of his services and their offering him a more important role in the side as motivation for the move abroad, adding that the presence of compatriots Andrea Trinchieri and Daniele Baiesi as head coach and GM respectively would facilitate his adaptation. Melli was named the MVP of the Month of November of the 2015–16 EuroLeague.
Melli was named the EuroLeague Round 11 MVP, after scoring 27 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, in a 70–85 away victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv, on 8 December 2016. He was named to the season's All-EuroLeague Second Team.
On July 8, 2017, Melli signed a three-year contract with Turkish club Fenerbahçe. In the 2017–18 EuroLeague season, Fenerbahçe made it to the 2018 EuroLeague Final Four, its fourth consecutive Final Four appearance. Eventually, they lost to Real Madrid, by a score of 80–85 in the finals game. In the finals game, Melli was the finals top scorer, as he scored 28 points, which was the most points scored in a EuroLeague Finals game by a player since 1985. He had a season-best performance in the EuroLeague Finals, scoring 28 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. Over 36 EuroLeague games played in total, he averaged 8.9 points, 5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
New Orleans Pelicans (2019–present)
On July 25, 2019, Melli signed with the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association (NBA). On October 22, 2019, Melli made his debut in NBA, coming off the bench in a 122–130 overtime loss to the Toronto Raptors with fourteen points, five rebounds and two assists.
National team career
Italian junior national team
Melli played with the Italian Under-16 side at the 2007 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship, averaging 13.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2 blocks per game (all three team bests), as he was selected to the tournament's best five. With the U-18's at the 2008 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, he averaged 9.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game (the latter a team best).
In the 2011 FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship, Melli contributed 10.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1 block per game, in nearly 25 minutes played per game, including 23 points and 11 rebounds in the quarterfinal against Montenegro, to help Italy reach the final. He had an off-game against Spain in the semifinal, grabbing 7 rebounds and scoring 9 points, but shooting 2 for 8 from the floor, and committing four fouls, as Italy had to make do with a silver medal.
Italian senior national team
After being called up to the Italy squad for EuroBasket 2013, the power forward had to play in an unfamiliar center position, due to the lack of big men in Italy's squad. Alternating at the position with Marco Cusin, he was pitted against bigger and stronger opponents, finishing the tournament with a respectable 4.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, in around 16 minutes played per game – with highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds against Turkey - as Italy reached the tournament's quarterfinals.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||PIR||Performance Index Rating|
Note: The EuroLeague is not the only competition in which the player participated for the team during the season. He also played in domestic competition, and regional competition if applicable.
Melli is the son of the former volleyball player Julie Vollertsen—a silver medalist with the United States at the 1984 Olympic Games—and corporate lawyer (formerly amateur basketball player for Pallacanestro Reggiana and television journalist) Leopoldo Melli. They met when Vollertsen moved from the U.S. to Reggio Emilia to play professionally. Enrico, Melli's younger brother who was born in 1995, has also played basketball for Reggiana.
Melli is a dual citizen of Italy and the United States. However, the first time he visited the latter was at 16 and he doesn't feel very American. He describes his English as good but not fluent.
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- Ligabue, Andrea (26 October 2004). "Nicolò Melli, 13 anni, è tornato a giocare coi coetanei" [Nicolò Melli, 13, has returned to play with his age group]. legabasket.it (in Italian). il Resto del Carlino. Retrieved 19 July 2015 – via Lega Basket Serie A.
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- Costa, Angelo (4 April 2007). "Il bimbo prodigio vola da Micheal Jordan" [The prodigal youth is flying to Michael Jordan]. IlRestodelCarlino.it (in Italian). Retrieved 21 July 2015.
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- "Jordan? Un'emozione" [«Jordan? Emotional»]. GazzettadiReggio.it (in Italian). 26 October 2006. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Melli, accordo quinquennale" [Melli, five-year deal]. PallacanestroReggiana.it (in Italian). 11 August 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "Nicolò Melli - Season 2007/2008". FIBA.com. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
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- "Nicolò Melli - Season 2009/2010". FIBA.com. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "Stagione finita per Melli, la società sul mercato" [Season over for Melli, the team on the market]. GazzettadiReggio.it (in Italian). 17 April 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- Petitti, Romano (10 July 2010). "Armani Jeans Milano tabs top prospect Melli". EuroLeague.net. Milan. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Melli, è ufficiale il prestito a Pesaro" [Melli, the loan to Pesaro is official]. CorrieredelloSport.it (in Italian). Milan. 16 February 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
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- "Melli, Nicolo - 2011-2012 Statistics". EuroLeague.net. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Valenti, Stefano (4 June 2012). "Milano ritrova Fotsis e la finale. Ma Pesaro s'arrende all'ultimo minuto" [Milan finds Fotsis and the final again. But Pesaro surrendered [only] in the end]. Repubblica.it (in Italian). Pesaro. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Serie A Basket - Milano di rabbia, la serie resta viva" [Serie A Basketball – Milan in anger, the series stays alive]. Eurosport.it (in Italian). Milan. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Melli, Nicolo - 2012-2013 Statistics". EuroLeague.net. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Gentile e Melli, leoncini Olimpia super in azzurro" [Gentile and Melli, Olimpia young lions great in blue]. Olimpia Milano.com (in Italian). 16 December 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
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- "Workouts – Bucks Draft 2013". NBA.com. Milwaukee Bucks. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
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- "Red Shoes Are Back 26: Nick Melli". OlimpiaMilano.com (in Italian). 14 July 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "Melli stars for EA7 Milan in victory over Zalgiris". EuroLeague.net. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "Melli, Nicolo - 2013-2014 Statistics". EuroLeague.net. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
- "Montepaschi Siena vs. EA7 Armani Milano (gara 6) 72-74" [Montepaschi Siena vs. EA7 Armani Milano (game 6) 72-74]. OlimpiaMilano.com (in Italian). Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Olimpia Milano 18 year wait". FIBAEurope.com. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "EA7 Emporio Armani, Melli together one more year". EuroLeague. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Brose Baskets signs forward Melli". EuroLeague.net. 14 July 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
- Chiabotti, Luca (24 July 2014). "Basket, Eurolega: Melli, la sfida tedesca "Voglio un ruolo diverso"" [Basketball, Euroleague: Melli, the German challenge. “I want a different role”]. Gazzetta.it (in Italian). Milan. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Regular Season Round 11 MVP: Nicolo Melli, Brose Bamberg". EuroLeague. 12 December 2016.
- The 2016-17 All-EuroLeague Team presented by 7DAYS!
- "Fenerbahce adds All-EuroLeague forward Melli to the mix". Euroleague.net. 8 July 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
- "Real Madrid is 2018 EuroLeague champion". euroleague.net. 20 May 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
- "Pelicans sign Nicolò Melli". NBA.com. July 25, 2019. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
- "VanVleet scores career-high 34, Raptors top Pelicans 130-122". ESPN.com. October 22, 2019. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
- "Italy #15 - Nicolò Melli". FIBA.com. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Musli named MVP". FIBAEurope.com. 29 July 2007. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Italy #13 - Nicolò Melli". FIBA.com. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Game report – Italy down Montenegro to qualify". FIBAEurope.com. 22 July 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Spain stay perfect to become champions". FIBAEurope.com. 24 July 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Italy #6 - Nicolò Melli". FIBA.com. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Nicolò Melli". FIP.it (in Italian). Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "Melli – Italy's monster in the paint". FIBAEurope.com. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "Melli, The Italian's David". OlimpiaMilano.com. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "Italy #9 – Nicolò Melli". FIBA.com. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "Italy take their dream roster to Berlin". FIBAEurope.com. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- Bamesberger, Michael (6 August 2012). "Olympic volleyball roots grew in Palmyra". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Nicolò Melli, il predestinato di Reggio Emilia" [Nicolò Melli, the predestined [one] from Reggio Emilia]. Olimpia Milano (in Italian). 24 November 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
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