The New Orleans Pelicans need more from Nicolo Melli.
When the New Orleans Pelicans were rolling earlier in the season, their depth was a weapon.
Nicolo Melli was knocking down open shots and spreading the floor, culminating in a 20 point performance against the Warriors in February in which he hit six of seven from long-range.
Since then, Melli has disappeared.
In the games since that night in February, Melli has made just seven of 40 from 3-point range for an average of 17.5 percent.
Melli is not a focal point of the offense but gets a lot of open shots when Brandon Ingram or Zion Williamson get double teamed.
Lately teams have been sagging off Melli and just letting him shoot, which is not a bad strategy considering he hasn’t made a 3-pointer since the 8th of March.
The New Orleans Pelicans need more competition at power forward.
If Melli isn’t making shots, he doesn’t offer much else, as he isn’t a great defender, doesn’t rebound much or create his own shot.
He’s basically out there to stretch the floor and create space, which isn’t happening.
If one thing has become clear in the first two bubble losses, it’s that the Pelicans need more defenders and guys who don’t just stand around the 3-point line on offense.
They need to bring in a power forward to compete for Melli’s backup minutes so they have some options when Melli can’t make a shot or stop anyone. Part of the reason the Pels are so soft defensively is that they don’t have a real power forward other than Zion.
Melli can be a weapon when he’s hot, but when he’s not he’s just taking up space and the Pelicans don’t have many other options.
The Pelicans have too many guards and not enough forwards, which is why Melli’s disappearance has hurt so much. This roster imbalance is not his fault, but it needs to be corrected.
Melli has one more year left on his contract and can be a valuable part of this roster, but the Pels must get more from their back up bigs, something they will need to address in the offseason.