FORMER Newcastle Hunters junior Ben Simmons says his first NBA regular-season game for the Philadelphia 76ers was like playing a video game.
The 21-year-old was impressive in his debut, living up to the hype of being the 2016 No.1 draft pick and potentially Australia's first NBA superstar with an 18 point, 10 rebound effort full of sweet moves to the basket, power dunks and laser passes.
It was not enough to prevent the Wizards from winning 120-115 in Washington DC on Wednesday.
"Really, really exceptional," 76ers coach Brett Brown, describing Simmons' performance, said.
Wizards' All-Star John Wall paid Simmons the ultimate tribute by comparing him to Cleveland Cavaliers' star LeBron James.
"Ben Simmons is like a LeBron getting the ball off the rim and pushing it to find his teammates," Wall said.
Simmons told reporters after the game he glanced at teammate Joel Embiid while they were on the court and he had a flashback to the popular video game NBA2K.
"It felt like I was playing 2K, honestly," Simmons said.
"Just looking at Embiid out there with the lights on his jersey. I was like: 'Man, I'm actually here'."
Simmons, who sat out last season with a broken foot, added to his individual statistics with five assists, two steals, one block and just one turnover in 34 minutes on the court. He also showed his versatility playing point guard, forward and centre during the game.
The 76ers led 59-56 at halftime and trailed by just three points in the final minute, but the Wizards' elite guards Wall, with 28 points, and Bradley Beal, 25 points, guided the home team to victory.
Forward Robert Covington led the 76ers with 29 points, Embiid showed his potential with 18 points and 13 rebounds and rookie guard Markelle Fultz had 10 points.
The 76ers, the worst team in the NBA the past four years with a deplorable 75-253 record, are hoping to finally turn their fortunes around this season.
"It's fun," Simmons said.
"I'm enjoying it."
Elsewhere, Milwaukee's Matthew Dellavedova sank a three-pointer in the final minute to fend off fellow Aussie Aron Baynes' Boston Celtics 108-100.
Dellavedova had 15 points, the Bucks' Australian centre Thon Maker had two points and three rebounds while Baynes collected four points and two rebounds.
Patty Mills had a single three-pointer, two assists and two steals in the San Antonio Spurs' 107-99 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Joel Ingles started for the Utah Jazz and filled up his stat sheet with 11 points, including three from five three-pointers, six assists and five rebounds in their 106-96 win over the Denver Nuggets.
In Phoenix, Damian Lillard scored 27 points and the Portland Trail Blazers opened the season by handing the Suns the most one-sided loss in the franchise's 49-year history, 124-76.
Houston Rockets beat the Sacramento Kings 105-100 on Wednesday night.