Superstar centers square off in entertaining battle of present vs future of NBA

San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets
San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

The Denver Nuggets won a key game on Tuesday night 110-105 over the San Antonio Spurs in a battle that ended up being much more hotly contested than anticipated. With the win, the Nuggets improved to 53-23 on the season and temporarily moved into first place in the Western Conference.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves are both tied with Denver in the loss column but have one fewer win. This three-team race may go down to the last day of the regular season. Every game is vital for securing homecourt advantage, and the Nuggets needed to take care of business against the 18-58 Spurs at home, which they did.

Jokic and Wembanyama showing out

Despite the Nuggets and Spurs existing on opposite ends of the standings, this was a very close game and an exciting watch, mostly due to the two stars, Nikola Jokic and Victor Wembanyama.

Even as a rookie, Wemby already looks like one of the best and most dominant players in the league. He was playing with a completely uninspiring supporting cast, his team was totally overmatched, and he single-handedly kept the Spurs in the game with his play on both ends.

More impressively, he was essentially going toe-to-toe with Jokic, the best player alive, for the entire game. The Joker finished the night with 42 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 assists. He was able to bully Wemby down low and bruise his way to the goal, but he had to work for everything all night long.

Wemby had 23 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists, plus 9 blocks - several of them on Jokic. He is an absolute menace on the defensive end and blocked several of Jokic’s shots in a way that we just don’t see. 

It’s clear already that this kid is going to dominate this league for a long time. As soon as he adds some muscle and gets better teammates, look out. For him to battle Jokic the way he did, was beyond eye-opening. He truly looked like he was Jokic’s equal.

He still has a lot to work on, but the raw combination of size and skills is insane. Jokic was full of praise after the game and seemed almost in disbelief describing how well Wemby had defended him. This has the look of a rivalry that will be appointment television for the foreseeable future.