While the narrative surrounding Maya Moore has always been centered around championships rather than individual success, the Minnesota Lynx superstar took her game to another level last season.
Moore enjoyed her best statistical season in 2014, averaging career highs in points and rebounds on her way to earning her first MVP award. The frightening part? She may have yet to max her talents.
Moore’s career has been on a steady upswing since she joined the league and won Rookie of the Year in 2011, and she enters this season in the middle of her prime as she’ll turn 26 years old about a week into the new season.
“She just finds a way to get better,” said Seimone Augustus, Moore’s teammate since Moore was drafted. “She came in and she was a guard and now she’s a little bit of a post, I mean she’s doing a little bit of everything, and I think that has to do with her maturity over the years, just knowing where she can pick her spots to be dangerous on the floor, whether she’s playing the post position or the guard position.”
Generally regarded as the game’s best all-around player, Moore is therefore not necessary classified as an explosive scorer or a dominant rebounder, but last season she won the WNBA scoring title (23.9 ppg) and finished eigth in the league rebounding (8.1 rpg).
In fact, Moore started the 2014 season with four straight 30-point games (a WNBA record) and erupted for games of 48 points and 40 points later in the season. Her 10 double-doubles — comprised of points and rebounds — were good for sixth in the league, ahead of bigs such as Brittney Griner and Nneka Ogwumike.
While Moore’s game has continued to evolve physically — her muscle-toned frame matches her impressive skillset — some think it’s more than just her athletic abilities that separate her from the rest of the pack.
“Mentally, she’s probably one of the toughest players that I’ve ever played against,” Augustus said. “She figures out a way to beat her opponents or put herself in a position to be successful.”
If that wasn’t enough, Moore will have extra motivation this year after the Lynx did not win a title last season, something that Moore — who has won at every level from high school, to college to the WNBA to overseas — is not all that accustomed to.
“It’s easier to be motivated when you’re coming from a loss,” Moore said. “So, I think it’s good for us. It keeps us hungry … you don’t win every single game, you don’t win every single day. It’s how you respond. So, I’m excited to continue to learn what that means in 2015, so we’ll see what the year holds.”
Ascending to the top of your profession does not happen overnight, and Moore’s rise has been a delight to her fans and peers.
“With Maya,” Lynx guard Monica Wright said. “It’s just interesting because we’ve been playing against each other for so long, and just to see her come from where we were in high school to be this one of the top players – in my opinion – arguably the top player in the world, it’s just been a great thing to watch.”