CHICAGO – New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicoló Melli will replace injured Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton on the World Team in the 2020 NBA Rising Stars, which will be played on Friday, Feb. 14 at the United Center in Chicago.
Melli, a 6-9 rookie from Italy, is averaging 6.1 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.6 minutes in 42 games (six starts). Through five games in February, the 29-year-old is averaging 8.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 20.6 minutes. Melli, who signed with the Pelicans on July 25, 2019, last played for Fenerbahçe of the Turkish Basketball League. He has also played professionally in Italy and Germany.
Ayton has missed Phoenix’s last two games with a sore left ankle. The 6-11 center from the Bahamas is averaging 18.7 points and 12.0 rebounds in 23 games in his second NBA season. He was the No. 1 overall pick in NBA Draft 2018 presented by State Farm.
The 2020 NBA Rising Stars pits 10 first- and second-year NBA players from the United States against 10 first- and second-year NBA players from the rest of the world in the league’s annual showcase of premier young talent during NBA All-Star. Rising Stars will air live at 9 p.m. ET on TNT and ESPN Radio in the United States. NBA All-Star 2020 will reach fans in 215 countries and territories in 47 languages.
The rosters for the 2020 NBA Rising Stars are available here.