Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons struggled in his team debut during Wednesday's season-opener against the New Orleans Pelicans. After the game, Nets head coach Steve Nash gave his assessment of Simmons' performance and chalked it up to the fact that he missed the entirety of last season.
"I just think he's rusty. The guy hasn't played for over a year," Nash told reporters. "He's still getting used to referees, defense, offense. This is a process for Ben."
Simmons finished with four points, five rebounds, five assists and three turnovers before fouling out of the game in 23 minutes of action. The Nets went on to lose to the Pelicans 130-108 on their home floor at the Barclays Center.
The three-time All-Star sat out the 2021-22 season due to a combination of injuries, a need to address his mental health and displeasure that led him to push to be traded from the Philadelphia 76ers. When he landed in Brooklyn, it was expected that he could be a natural fit alongside Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but he was unable to take the court.
Nash believes Simmons has flashed the potential to get back to the player who was a difference-maker on both ends of the floor with his stellar playmaking and defense.
"He's shown, obviously, glimpses of the player we know he is and can be, but it's not easy," Nash said. "We're here to support him. We're here to push him, coach him up and try to get him to a place where he can play at the level he's played at in the past."
Nash also expressed patience and said he understands that there's a lot Simmons has to get used to this early in the season.
"It's all there for him. I think you see those glimpses throughout the preseason but now putting it together, really getting his legs under him, his rhythm and then assimilating to a new group, there's a lot on his plate," Nash said. "But as long as he continues to build his confidence, play hard, play with force, we're fine with him making mistakes as he grows into this."
The Nets will look to bounce back when they host the Toronto Raptors on Friday.