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Nicolo Melli to replace Deandre Ayton in Rising Stars game

The Pelicans F will step in for Ayton in the Rising Stars game for Team World.

New Orleans Pelicans guard Nicolo Melli drives against the Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant during the first half at FedExForum. Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns C Deandre Ayton has been replaced by Nicolo Melli in the Rising Stars Game for Team World at NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago on Friday night. Melli, a native of Italy, will slot in for Ayton, a native of the Bahamas.

Ayton has been dealing with an ankle injury, which will hold him out this weekend. He had been playing well, averaging 20.5 points, 12 rebounds and 2.5 assists over the past 12 games. Melli, in his rookie season in the NBA, hasn’t played much. He’s averaging 6.1 points in 15.6 minutes in 42 games. Melli does have decent per 36 minute averages at 14.1 points and 6.4 rebounds, shooting 37.3% from 3-point range.