The Dallas Mavericks pulled off a trade just minutes before the March 25 deadline. They sent James Johnson, Wesley Iwundu, and their 2021 second-round pick to New Orleans for J.J. Redick and Nicolo Melli. The Mavs wanted to add shooting and received one of the best long-distance marksmen in the league.
Melli was an after-thought in the deal. He struggled to find his jumper and was not getting consistent minutes with the Pelicans. The 30-year-old is an experienced professional that shot over 40 percent from 3-point range for four straight seasons playing in Europe, according to RealGM. Melli has struggled since coming to the NBA, but the Mavericks are notorious for bringing the best out of international talent.
The 6’9 forward made his debut with Dallas on March 29 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It did not take him long to make a splash. Here is a closer look at his first action with the Mavs.
Nicolo Melli shines in his debut with the Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs were up 92-79 with 4:41 left in the third quarter when Melli saw his first action. He was active against his former team on Saturday night but did not play. Rick Carlisle and the coaching staff gave him a crash course in the Mavericks system before giving him a crack in Oklahoma City. He quickly made his presence felt.
Melli’s first Mavericks basket came with the third quarter winding down when Luka Doncic passed up a wide-open 3-pointer to get the newcomer involved. See the play below.
The 30-year-old had a steal and slam early in the fourth quarter that showed off some unexpected athleticism.
It was a strong first game as Maverick for Nicolo Melli. He finished with six points, three rebounds, and one steal on three of four shooting from the field. Dallas outscored the Thunder by 12 points during his 11 minutes on the floor on Monday night.
It will be interesting to see if that earns him more minutes going forward. Melli should compete with Dwight Powell, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Boban Marjanovic for playing time in the frontcourt. If the Mavericks can help the 30-year-old unlock his outside shooting, he could be a fantastic fit in coach Carlisle’s system. Keep an eye on his playing time down the stretch.