Last season Denver Nuggets fans were treated to some epic big man duels and it wasn't with Javale McGee or Timofey Mozgov. Jusuf Nurkic, the then rookie, flashed on numerous occasions the combination of size and skill that made him one of the steals of the draft. Nurkic's duels against Marc Gasol and Demarcus Cousins were particularly promising. The big man has excellent footwork and a superb feel for the game, much like his teammate Nikola Jokic, but unlike Jokic, Nurkic brings an imposing physical presence and nasty demeanor which Denver hasn't seen since the likes of Kenyon Martin.
Last night Nurkic got his chance to go head to head with the next star big man in the NBA, Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns is a freakish combination of size, athletic ability and skill that makes him the complete package. He can score in the post, he can step out to the three point line (though I'm not sure he really should be doing that as of just yet), he rebounds well, he provides interior defense and has enough quickness to guard the more spry power forwards of the league when needed. In short, there's a reason he went #1 overall in last year's draft. Neither Nurkic (15pts, 10 rebs, 5 blks) or Towns (14pts, 14 rebs, 2 blks) got the best of the other last night, but it was very noticeable that Towns struggled much more when battling Nurkic in the post in comparison to Jokic. With both Juka and Nikola in the fold, the Denver Nuggets future at the five is very bright indeed.