Stats: 34 games, 34 starts, 18.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 42.3 FG%, 36.5 3P%, 83.3 FT%
A Deeper Dive: To be perfectly honest, it was a tough season for Maya Moore. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing that went wrong for her, Moore simply didn’t seem like herself this year. Seven-straight seasons of playing deep into the playoffs and playing abroad in the offseason might have caught up with her, or the pressure of being the face of the Lynx, Jordan Brand and women’s basketball in general might of weighed on her. Or something else entirely might have been impacting Moore. That’s between her and her coaches.
Let’s be clear, by the standards we’d hold any other basketball player to, Moore had a great year. She led the league in steals, was ninth in points and seventh in made threes. She had several absolutely transcendent games. However, despite her highlights, Moore wasn’t as efficient as she has been in seasons past and her consistency took a hit. Moore will be the first to tell you that she holds herself to different standards than those that apply to other players—when you’re a superstar the expectations are different.
The biggest issue for Moore this year was her shooting. Outside of a few games where she looked like her old self, Moore missed a lot of shots short this year. Her shots were online and her form looked as good as ever, things simply didn’t fall for her. This would suggest tired legs. It’s absolutely insane the workload that Moore has shouldered over the last several years, and a shortened WNBA season with little to no time for either practice or rest certainly didn’t help.
Moore is unbelievably talented and remains a perennial MPV threat. Sleep on her at your own risk. Lynx fans should have no cause for concern about Moore’s ability to lead the team going forward. Everyone has down years, and Moore gave her all to the team. At some point, things just pile up.
Top Three Games:
3. June 26 vs. Seattle
When you’re playing the best you need to be at your best. In a June contest against the eventual WNBA champions, the Seattle Storm, Moore put on a show for the Target Center crowd. She dropped 32 points, adding seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. In big games, you need your stars to show up. Moore did that and more in arguably the Lynx’s most impressive win of the season.
2. July 21 at Phoenix
Moore poured in a season-high 38 points and added six rebounds in a crucial midseason road victory. She did most of her damage from midrange and at the rim, though she hit two threes as well. At halftime, a video came out of Diana Taurasi lecturing her team on how important it was to stop Moore. Taurasi said that the Mercury had to make someone else on the team beat them. Moore beat them anyway.
1. August 9 at Las Vegas
Talk about efficient. In Las Vegas, Moore scored 34 points on 12-19 shooting, including five-of-seven three-pointers. She added five assists, four rebounds, two steals and a block. When Moore’s three-point shot is falling, it opens up so much for her game. When the threat of her dialing in from long range forces her defenders to guard her closely she is able to get to the rim more easily and also facilitate things for her teammates more effectively as she gets defenders out of position. Moore is so hard to guard one-on-one that if she can make the right pass, it usually leads to open looks for her teammates. She did it all this game.
Rest and recover. Moore knows what it takes to win. While she obviously should continue to work on her game, there are already so few holes in what she does on the court, the most important thing for her is to make sure she comes into 2019 ready to perform at the highest level she is capable of. Moore currently does not have an overseas contract, so it’s likely she will take the offseason away from organized basketball. While she’ll certainly still be in the gym, it will be good for Moore to have some time to work on her game on her own terms and rekindle some of her joy in the game away from a team context. When she comes back, Moore will be ready to go, there’s little doubt about that.
Role in 2019:
Moore will enter 2019 as one of the Lynx’s two star players, alongside Sylvia Fowles. In what will certainly be a very different looking roster next season, Moore will play a key part in establishing the culture on and off the court for the next era of Lynx basketball. She will certainly have conversations with coach Cheryl Reeve about the best system and personnel for her game, and Reeve will definitely spend part of her offseason thinking about ways to get Moore going. It will be interesting to see what position Moore plays in 2019. Last season she split her time between the four and the five as Rebekkah Brunson dealt with injury concerns and Cecilia Zandalasini emerged as a player who had to see the court. While it’s likely Moore will be moved back to her natural small forward position, Reeve will need to get creative.