Melli to replace injured Ayton in Rising Stars game

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New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli will replaced injured Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton on the World Team for Friday’s NBA Rising Stars contest in Chicago.

Melli, a 29-year-old rookie from Italy, is averaging 6.1 points and 2.8 rebounds in 42 games (six starts) this season.

Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, missed the past two games with a sore left ankle.

Ayton is averaging 18.7 points and 12.0 rebounds in 23 games in his second NBA season.

The Rising Stars game pits 10 first- and second-year players from the United States against 10 from the rest of the world.