MINNEAPOLIS - This is always the way it was supposed to be for Maya Moore.
She was a star in high school and the most decorated college player to ever hit the court. She was the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft, a franchise-changing talent who could draw more than just hard-core fans to the arena to see her play.
Moore and the Minnesota Lynx won a title in her first season and reached the finals again in her second season, an incredibly successful start by any measure. For those expecting Moore to take the league by storm and dominate from the start, they had to wait a bit. Three years, to be exact.
Now in her third season, Moore has taken over. More comfortable with her teammates, her competition and her status as a veteran in the league, she led the Lynx to the best record in the WNBA for the third straight season.
"Every year that I'm here I take on more and more as far as expectations, the poise I play with and the trust that my teammates have in me," Moore said. "I think as a culture of our team, we want to be able to have a lot of trust in each other no matter how old you are or how many years you've been playing. But especially this year. I've had my first two years under my belt. The core group being here has given me a comfort that has allowed me to play more like a veteran."
She is averaging career highs in points (18.5), rebounds (6.2) and shooting percentage (.509). She was named Western Conference player of the month in August and September and also became the first player in league history to finish first in 3-point percentage (.453) and 3-pointers made (72). To put that in perspective, only two NBA players have ever done that.
Moore just missed out on the WNBA's MVP award, finishing second to Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker in one of the closest votes in league history, according to a person familiar with the situation.