Nicolo Melli provides the Dallas Mavericks insurance for Kristaps Porzingis
It’s no secret that Kristaps Porzingis is not the most available player in the NBA. At times, it seems as though KP is injured more often than he is healthy. Relying on such a fragile star means that the Mavericks need to have a plan in the case that Porzingis has to miss extended time.
That plan now is Nicolo Melli. In the first two games that KP missed since the Mavericks acquired Redick and Melli, the latter was Carlisle’s first choice to fill the Unicorn’s slot in the starting lineup. Aside from that, Melli has also started in Willie Cauley-Stein’s place in two other contests.
Melli should be the natural option to take KP’s slot if he goes down or his ankle injury causes him to miss extended time. Although it’s nearly impossible to find a replacement for The Unicorn’s unique skillset, Melli is the only frontcourt option the Mavs have to ensure a relatively seamless transition.
While Maxi Kleber provides the same level of floor spacing that the Zinger brings, if not more so, his lack of agility and athleticism prevents him from being a multi-faceted offensive threat in the way KP is and Melli can be.https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2021/04/03/0022000747/271/e34867b2-0a52-d533-1fe3-2413961f475b_1280x720.mp4
In the clip above, Luka Doncic finds Melli open on the wing in a semi-fast break opportunity. Davis Bertans scrambles to prevent an open three. Without hesitation, Melli takes advantage of the bad closeout with his agility and blows by Bertans for an easy bucket at the cup.
No other big on the Mavericks roster has the blend of shooting and agility to be able to make that play aside from KP.
Having Melli as Porzingis insurance means that the Mavericks won’t have to sacrifice their spacing, offensive versatility, or size if KP goes down.
Next: Lineup flexibility