Maya Moore has plenty of championships and awards. In her WNBA career alone, she has won two WNBA Championships. Shes made the All-Star Game three times. Shes been named to the All-WNBA First Team once (almost surely twice after this season) and to the All-WNBA Second Team. She was the WNBA Finals MVP last season and the 2011 Rookie of the Year. Really, we could keep going, but you get it.
But she had yet to win the WNBA regular season MVP, until today. Maybe its wrong to be surprised, but Moore is different. Shes only 25, but shes literally accomplished everything else in the basketball world.
A casual fan might have already thought Moore had won the MVP award, and after averaging 18.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 blocks per game last season, an argument could be made that she certainly should already have one. Many experts and pundits would agree with you In fact, some were very surprised that Los Angeles center Candace Parker won the award.
But thats history. Moore won the WNBA Championship and the Finals MVP, and to her, thats much more important. Shes a winner. The stats just come with it.
Moore came back this season, maybe with a chip on her shoulder. Who knows? But probably not. Shes got the competitors edge to her, but her numbers were right in line with her career. Shes improved her points per game mark in every year of her career by at least 2.1 points per game. Her rebounding numbers (8.1) and minutes per game (34.7) have also increased every season. She just did what shes done over the course of her career: Get better.
Well, I dont necessarily play this game for the accomplishments. I play this game because I enjoy it, Moore said after Thursdays shooatround. I enjoy the journey Success for me isnt only measured in public awards.
Its safe to say that this is Moores team, and this year, the Lynx needed her more than ever.
She missed zero games. None. Her 1,181 minutes for the season ranked second in the league, just 11 minutes behind Tulsa guard Skylar Diggins (who had quite the season herself).
You know, its different for me to play as many minutes as I was, and with that, the production was going up, Moore said. Every time Im out on the floor Im trying to be productive I still know theres so much more I can get better at and become an even more poised player.
The voters for the MVP Award told us just how special they thought Moores season was. They gave her 35 first-place votes. In second-place? Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi who had just two first-place votes. Thats no disrespect Taurasi, who led her team to a No. 1 seed in the West, but that type of voting is something that you just dont see very often.
Who was that? That was some Phoenix people? Augustus joked after shootaround. Some people out in Phoenix?
She deserved it. Shes put in a lot of work over the last few years to get to this point. Im happy for her.
Moore led the league in scoring (23.9 ppg), which was the third-highest averaged in WNBA history. She scored 135 points over her first four outings, marking the most prolific four-game stretch in WNBA history. She became the first player in league history to post four consecutive games of 30 or more points. She finished the regular season with a league-record 12 games of 30-plus points. She won three of the four Western Conference Player of the Month awards.
Its definitely an honor to have the respect of the people that are watching this league, paying attention, studying it for so many years, Moore said. To be healthy to compete for a full season and be able to help the way it needed those times when we only had nine players at one point and to have everyone back to be able to have a great gel with me scoring as well as other things.
Certainly, Moore has made plenty of history throughout this season. The scary thing is that shell likely be more focused during this postseason run. During her postseason career, shes put up 16.9 points per game, nearly a point higher than her season average. With the Moore weve seen this season, 40 points is possible. So is 25 points and 12 rebounds. The second-best thing about her game is that fans never know what to expect.
The best thing about her game? Ninety-nine percent of the time, they can expect something great.
Heres to the 2014 MVP, Maya Moore.
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