Melli to replace injured Ayton in Rising Stars game

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.

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