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Current Dominator vs. Future Dominator

The best team in the Western Conference faced off with the worst team in the conference. On April 2, the defending champions Denver Nuggets played against the San Antonio Spurs, the youngest team in the NBA. What may seem like a breezy, win-guaranteed matchup for the Nuggets turned out to be quite the opposite, to the surprise of many fans.

The rising phenom of Victor Wembenyama has been circling sports circles as fans of the game make note of both the player’s stature and performance. He is a Frenchman standing seven-foot-four with a wingspan of around eight feet. He’s so tall he makes every other big man in the league look short. He makes guards look comically tiny but shares their skill set, which is uncommon for someone of his height. He can shoot. He can dribble. He can defend on the perimeter.

He’s unlike anything the league has ever seen, which has earned him nicknames like the alien and the extraterrestrial. His career is very young, and he has already become dominant at the young age of 20.

In his matchup with the Nuggets, he went head-to-head with arguably the best player in the league, Nikola Jokic, who is likely on his way to earning his third MVP award in four years. So, though this was a face-off between two teams in drastically different circumstances, these players matched up to play a game within the game against each other.

Jokic played to prove that he is still the NBA’s most outstanding player. Wembenyama played to prove he doesn’t fear anyone and is already a force to be reckoned with. Jokic could not let this newfound talent dethrone him as the league’s most dominant big man. It was the current dominator versus the future dominator.

The game was a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping shootout until the final buzzer. The Nuggets are quite possibly the soundest team in the league through and through, but the Spurs stepped up their game to prevent the Nuggets from simply waltzing to victory.

Wembenyama and Jokic went back and forth, trading blows and trying to one-up each other. Wembenyama had badly blocked Jokic during the first quarter. To get his revenge, Jokic came down next possession to dunk on Wembenyama. He was not to be made a fool. Jokic does not dunk often, but he had three in the first quarter; something he’s never done. This was a sign that he ramped up his intensity to show he could do it all.

Jokic had full control of this game, as he does most. He finished with 42 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and shot 50% from the field. He’s the league’s smartest player and does things that leave spectators with their jaws dropped. But so does Wembenyama.

Wembenyama finished the game with 23 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists and nine blocks. That’s two assists and one block shy of a quadruple-double: a feat only four players have ever accomplished. Wembenyama is a blocking machine. Players fear shooting lay-ups against the Spurs because Wembenyama can block shots when he’s not even near due to his outstanding agility. That’s what happens when a player can practically dunk flat-footed.

The battle was entertaining and competitive. The superstar in Jokic prevailed over the budding star in Wembenyama with a close final score of 110-105. Jokic remains top dog for now, but Wembenyama proved that, should he stay healthy, he will be competing for supremacy for many, many years to come.

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