Lynx couldn’t ask for anything more from MVP Moore
MINNEAPOLIS — League champion. Olympic champion. National champion. All-Star. All-American. All-WNBA.
And now, MVP.
The girl that’s done it all did even more this season, claiming her first WNBA MVP honors as officially announced by the league Thursday. Her name is Maya Moore, and she can add the trophy she’ll receive in a ceremony before Thursday night’s playoff opener against San Antonio to her laundry list of accomplishments.
Not that she’s one to lump personal success among team achievement — the hunger for the latter can only be satiated with a second WNBA ring, as evidenced by her season-long deflection of personal praise.
Starting at 8 p.m. Thursday, Moore and the Lynx will begin their quest for it. But before tipoff, she’ll receive a Heisman-like sculpture signifying her dominance this season.
A panel of 38 WNBA sportswriters and broadcasters voted Moore the MVP in a landslide; her 35 first-place votes and 371 points placed her far ahead of second-place Diana Taurasi, a fellow UConn grad who received two first-place votes and 242 points. Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry received 112 points and finished third.
It’s a simple formula that’s allowed Moore to continue to transcend women’s hoops, even after playing central roles in obtaining Gold for Team USA, national titles for Connecticut and already a pair of WNBA crowns with Minnesota.
It can be quantified, but only partially. Moore’s 23.9 points per game set a franchise record and are the third-most for a single season in league history. She also finished the regular season ranked eighth in rebounding (8.1 per game), 13th in field-goal percentage (48.1 percent), fourth in free-throw percentage (88.4 percent), tied for fourth in steals (1.88 per game) and second in minutes (34.7 per game).
Three times, she was named Western Conference player of the month. At midseason, she earned more fan All-Star Game votes than any other player.
But it’s how Moore did it — and under which circumstances — that separated her this season. When starters Rebekkah Brunson and Seimone Augustus were out with injuries, she turned things up a notch. Her defense became even more tenacious yet disciplined at the same time.
Moore has long been a bona fide scorer. This season, she’s officially an all-tool player.
In her franchise-record 48-point game July 23, for example, she also had 10 rebounds, four assists and a pair of timely steals as Minnesota outlasted Atlanta in double overtime. Her rebounding and steal numbers are both career highs for the fourth-year, 25-year-old veteran.
Since being drafted first overall in 2011, Moore has yet to miss a game.
With all that in mind, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said recently it would’ve been "one of the biggest gaffes" in league history had Moore, who finished second in last year’s MVP voting and earned 2013 finals MVP honors, didn’t get the nod this year.
If it weren’t for the playoffs starting Thursday night, the coach could rest easy.
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