His deep shooting range, inside finesse and high basketball IQ allowed Nicolo Melli to travel the path from young prospect to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague superstar during the 2010s. Melli possessed a rare combination of solid post moves and soft touch, even from three-point range. He debuted in the EuroLeague with AX Armani Exchange Milan in 2010, but his game soared once he moved out of his comfort zone, joining Brose Bamberg and Fenerbahce Istanbul.
In Bamberg, Melli became a persistent mismatch for opponents at the power forward and the center positions. He earned MVP of the Month honors twice with the club, first in November 2015 as Bamberg made a run that season at becoming the first playoffs qualifier, only to lose in a three-way tiebreak. He was MVP for December in 2016, too, and went on to be voted by fans and media to that season’s All-EuroLeague Second Team.
- All-EuroLeague Second Team 2016-17
- EuroLeague November MVP 2015-16
- EuroLeague December MVP 2016-17
Melli then joined Fenerbahce Istanbul for two seasons, making the Final Four both times. In the 2018 edition, Melli set a championship-game scoring record, since broken, with 28 points, although Fenerbahce lost to Real Madrid. He and Fenerbahce were back at the 2019 Final Four but lost to Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the semifinals. An understated force who had an outsized impact on the competition, Melli ranks fifth for the decade in defensive rebounds, 10th in total boards and seventh among forwards with 1,531 points.