The WNBA announced this morning that Maya Moore has won the 2014 WNBA MVP award in a fashion almost as dominant as her season itself, earning 35 of a possible 38 votes.
We've been over her candidacy a number of times, but here's a quick summary of the key points:
- She led the league in everyone's favorite statistic (points), but also led the league in PER and Win Shares according to Basketball-Reference and plus/minus according to data maintained by the Lynx.
- For a player whose one weakness as a draft prospect in 2011 was getting to the rim, Moore shot 70.1% within five feet this year and had by far the highest free throw rate of her career (29.1%)
- As discussed in our Lynx playoff preview, no player was responsible for a larger percentage of her team's success than Moore.
- She opened the season by scoring 30 points in four consecutive games, but what might have been most impressive was that she rarely settled for bad or reckless shots - she has showed a remarkable ability to take what comes to her and capitalize on it efficiently. And who's counting those 30 point games anyway?
- Beyond the statistical mumbo jumbo, narrative matters and that the Lynx managed to win 25 games in a fourth consecutive season despite having so many injury problems is a testament to just how good Moore is.
Taken together, Moore might not have had the best season in league history but she absolutely had the most purely dominant season of any player in the league this season - there just wasn't anyone in the league who singlehandedly influenced winning to a greater extent than Moore.
Diana Taurasi (2) and Brittney Griner (1) took the other three first place votes and both were deserving candidates as well: Taurasi had a historically good season as a scoring point guard for a Phoenix Mercury team that won the most games in league history and had a league-high offensive rating of 109.3. The Mercury are definitely Taurasi's team, but Griner has to be the Defensive Player of the Year favorite and anchored the league's top-rate defense with a rating of 97.
Otherwise, McCoughtry might be considered a bit of a surprise at third place in this year's voting. No question that the Dream goes as she goes, but even our own Atlanta-based writer James Bowman left McCoughtry off of his All-WNBA teams for our Swish Appeal awards panel - certainly, as he wrote in our Atlanta Dream playoff preview - the team goes as far as she takes them, but it was a down year for her underscored by a career-high turnover percentage.
2014 WNBA MVP VOTING RESULTS
Points Player Team
371 Maya Moore Minnesota Lynx
242 Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury
112 Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream
91 Candace Parker Los Angeles Sparks
67 Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury
From the WNBA release.
But haggling over votes is sort of beside the point this season - it was Moore's year for this award and, if she continues improving, it could be the first of multiple.
For more on Moore and the Lynx, check out our preview of their first round playoff series with the San Antonio Stars.