A few names come to mind: Bradley Beal(!), Al Horford, Joel Embiid and maybe Jae Crowder or Otto Porter Jr. Regardless of Carmelo Anthony beating these guys out, there are a few cases as to why they should and shouldn't be All-Stars.
The Little Things:
Al Horford is the poster child of the little things, and it's why I never expected him to be seriously considered as a real option to replace Love when the news broke. Casual fans look at his contract and see him as a bust. Casual fans see him missing game-winning layups in Houston and laugh. Casual fans don't see a correlation between Isaiah Thomas' emergence as an even bigger scoring threat this season because of Horford's presence and passing. It's a shame that the All-Star game is basically an event dedicated to casual fans (okay, this is a stretch, but it's definitely not for those who love hard-nosed defense).
This extends to Jae Crowder and Otto Porter Jr. as well. Jae Crowder has flirted with a 50-40-90 season two years in a row. He still isn't great at creating his own offense off the dribble, but he's still an above-average starter on the second best team in the East.
Otto Porter Jr., while not getting the All-Star reserve nod, will probably be in the running for Most Improved Player (and he'd probably win it too if it weren't for that meddling Greek Freak). Casual fans still don't notice how big he's been to Washington's mid-season surge, though. He's been really, really good. It's just tough to notice.
But hey! The All-Star game is all about scoring a lot of points! Al Horford, Bradley Beal, Joel Embiid, Jae Crowder and Otto Porter Jr. are all more valuable basketball players on their respective teams, and swapping Melo in any of their places probably makes each team worse. The All-Star game, though, isn't about who's most valuable. It's about entertainment. Carmelo Anthony is more entertaining to the casual fan. If you ever have wondered why Anthony thrives in Olympic basketball and has thrived in previous All-Star contests, it's because he just has to score. That's it. In the NBA, you can argue the many reasons why he hasn't had more team success, but Anthony really is at his best and most entertaining when you can look at him as a coach and say, "go score."
This was the best smart business decision, and that's to make the All-Star game as entertaining as possible to get as many people to watch. While others deserved the spot more, Carmelo Anthony was always the most profitable choice. Is it fair? No. Will we still tune in? Probably. Is this even a big deal? No, but it's still important to keep perspective. Will there be defense? Absolutely not.
Will we still be entertained? Definitely.