The backlash from Melo not making All-Stars has been pretty strong, and it's mostly David West on the receiving end. Even in ESPN's "announcement" story (which, theoretically should have had no bias), they basically straight up said that Melo was snubbed in favor of West, without actually putting in those words. I said last week that I couldn't defend David West being selected as an All-Star. I'm really surprised he did end up making it. That said, I can defend him making it over Anthony. It's guys like Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson that warranted a closer look, not Carmelo Anthony. David West has been more valuable than Carmelo Anthony thus far, and the numbers bear it out.
Let's start on the offensive side of the ball. West has taken something of a tumble, mostly due to his low offensive rebound rate. But as Caleb462 pointed out last week, his other stats have remained very similar. Despite a slight dip in shooting from the field, West has been getting to the line almost a full time more per 36 minutes. His true shooting percentage bears this out, indicating that he's actually shooting more efficiently from the field and line than last year. His defensive rebound rates, assist rates, and turnover rates are virtually constant. Overall, West has dipped a little bit, but a PER of 18.4 is nothing to sneeze at. He produces a 109 points per 100 possessions, again a decent clip of efficiency.
Moving on to Melo, his offensive numbers have taken a precipitous dip. Most analysts are writing this off to a role more focused on passing and rebounding or that he's become more of a "team" player. His assist rate has risen to a career high 19.3%. But there's a corresponding rise in turnover rate as well, a career worst 14.2%. His rebounding numbers have certainly gone up as well. He actually has better offensive and total rebound rates than David West. So the argument that he's passing and rebounding better than ever is very true. What that argument doesn't acknowledge is that 'Melo has been absolutely awful from the floor. He's barely scraping a 47% effective field goal percentage. On top of that, he's getting the line fewer times per 36 minutes than he ever has, save for his rookie season. Basically, he's missing a ton of shots and not getting fouled enough to negate that. His offensive efficiency (103 compared to West's 109) and PER (17.8 compared to 18.4) suggest that the massive losses in his shooting more than negate his added rebounding and assists. Taking on a "team player" role is fine, but when your offensive efficiency dips so precipitously, it doesn't really help the team.
Let's move to the defensive side of the ball. This is where the argument for West over Anthony really starts to strengthen. Let's start with a more general, team-level look and then look specifically at the two guys. New Orleans and Denver are very, very close in defensive efficiency (105.6 DEN, and 106.1 NOH). The thing is, Denver has two very, very good defenders in its starting lineup- Chauncey Billups and Nene Hilario. Those are the two leaders of its stout defense, and while guys like Anthony or J.R. Smith can exert themselves defensively, it all starts and ends with Chauncey and Nene. For the Hornets, West, Chandler, and Paul are the main components of the defense (and an argument can be made that it's really just West and Chandler).
A more specific look at West and Anthony reveals an even wider gap. Basketball Prospectus runs a stat called "DMult." A DMult of 1 implies that specific defender holds his offensive counterparts to exactly what that offensive player would normally get. A DMult of, say, 0.9 implies the defender holds his counterparts to just 90% of what they normally get, and a DMult of 1.1 implies that a defender gives up 10% more than what the offensive player would normally get. Thus far, West has posted a DMult of 0.891, one of the best at not only his position, but in the entire NBA. Carmelo has posted a DMult of 1.013, significantly worse than West. Corroborating this argument is the adjusted +/- statistic. With David West on the court, the Hornets are 2.02 points better on defense. With Anthony on the floor, the Nuggets are 4.13 points worse. Even when you take into account the standard error associated with adjusted +/-, this gap is difficult to explain away. It's massive.
On top of all this, Anthony has missed 15 games while West has missed 5. Unless you're looking at raw points per game or something, there's really no argument for Melo. Millsap, there's a great case; Jefferson, most definitely. But Carmelo Anthony has not contributed more than David West.