She may be scoring a bit less, but Maya Moore said Thursday she is having more fun.
A quick look at Moore’s stats might suggest the Lynx star has taken a half-step back this season. She is scoring 18.7 points per game, down from the 20.6 she averaged in 2015 and her career high of 23.9 in her MVP season in 2014.
But stats in this case don’t tell the whole story.
Playing on a team that is healthier than it has been in a long time, with four starters averaging in double figures and eight players scoring 7.5 or more points per game, Moore doesn’t need to score as much. Instead, she’s displaying more all-around skills for a team that is fighting for the top record in the WNBA and chasing a fourth title in six years.
“She’s probably having her most well-rounded season,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “She’s passing the ball really, really well. There are her hustle plays on the glass. Typical Maya things. … I think she’s been incredibly unselfish.”
Moore leads the Lynx with a career-high 4.3 assists per game. She ranks fifth in the league in scoring, seventh in assists and fourth in steals (1.5).
Playing on a deep, healthy team, her minutes are down, the lowest since her rookie season. But her scoring, per 36 minutes, is up over last season, as is her overall shooting percentage and her three-point shooting.
MVP talk this season will likely begin and end in Los Angeles with Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike. But Moore’s all-around play has helped the Lynx to the league’s highest-scoring offense.
“We’ve been able to play in a way where I can be put in a position to score a lot, or I can be put in a position to kind of be more in the flow of things,” Moore said. “But having so many talented teammates, and having everyone healthy, will create more balance. That’s the beauty of our team, and it’s definitely more fun to me that way.”
Moore is still the team’s go-to player. She has three career games of 40 points or more, including a 40-point effort at Connecticut on July 7. She has led the Lynx in scoring 15 times, in rebounding four times and in assists 12 times. And she has scored in double figures in 22 of 27 games, scoring 20 or more 12 times.
But she doesn’t enter every game feeling she has to score 25 points for the team to win.
“The most satisfying way to play basketball is when you can get the best out of everyone on the court,” she said. “I’m fortunate to be a player who can do a lot of things well. Not everything perfectly, but several things well. Trying to fit my strengths with my teammates’ strengths, utilizing everyone to the max, is really fun to watch and really a fun way to play.”
That said, Reeve said Moore — like the whole team — needs to do more as the playoffs approach. Moore’s game has been more well-rounded, but it could be even more efficient.
“For me, efficiency comes when your field-goal percentage reflects that,” Reeve said. “Maya hasn’t gotten to that high level there. Hopefully that’s yet to come. But what Maya is doing is giving us easier opportunities to score, because she does draw a lot of attention.”
Moore’s 44.3 shooting percentage is better than last season (42.0) but not at the level she was at in 2013 (50.9) and 2014 (48.1). But her 37.0 shooting from three-point range is her best in three seasons.
“I’m just going to continue to make good plays,” Moore said. “Making the right decisions, good decisions with the ball so my team can play with a great flow.’’