WNBA: Tallest Player vs. Best Player

If there was ever a must-watch WNBA game, it would have to be the tallest player in the league flying from Los Angeles to Minnesota to put a 15-game winning streak on the line Thursday against the best women’s player in the world who just put up 48 points on 7-for-9 three-point shooting. Maya Moore (6-foot-0), who dunked at my son's high school 10 years ago, is even out-rebounding Brittney Griner (6-foot-8), who won the 2012 ESPY Award as the top women’s athlete in the world but is not even close in this side-by-side:

Rnk   Brittney Griner Player   Maya Moore Rnk
1st 6-foot-8 Height 6-foot-0 80th
3rd 59% 2-pt% 54% 10th
NR 0% 3p% 34% 20th
29th 78% FT% 87% 6th
10th 8.0 TOT 8.3 8th
NR 1.7 APG 3.5 19th
NR 0.5 SPG 1.9 5th
1st 3.9 BPG 0.8 16th
8th 15.7 PPG 24.3 1st

Moore stands as only the 80th-tallest player in the league, but out-rebounds Griner and plays among the leaders in all eight WNBA categories. Moore scores three points per game more than anyone else in the league, while Griner averages more than one block per game more than anyone else in the league.

While Moore is the best player, her Minnesota Lynx is only the second best team behind Griner’s Phoenix Mercury on the power of Moore’s toughest competition for MVP (Diana Taurasi) and Candice Dupree.

One of my sons came back from Collins High School a decade ago and told me about how a reporter had come to verify reports that Moore could dunk. Some guys came over to the gym, too, heckling her as she lined it up. Moore threw it down, and they hung their heads and walked out of the gym. A victory over bias.

Moore went on from my family’s high school to be a 1st Team All-American all four years at UConn, including being named National Player of the Year her sophomore and senior years. The game played Tuesday in Minnesota and aired Sunday afternoon on NBA TV was quite a unifying event. The Lynx built the day around appreciation of the Native American culture, and Moore looked every bit the women’s version of Michael Jordan and LeBron James, from the shared No. 23 to the 48-points to pull off a double-overtime win.

Her 7-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc was reminiscent of Michael Jordan shrugging after hitting six three-pointers in 1992, or James hitting eight of 10 three-pointers to torch Jordan’s Charlotte club for 61 points more recently.

Moore went 150-4 to take two titles in four years at UConn, and will now try to make it three WNBA titles in four years.

However, Thursday may give a hint about whether Moore’s season will end like James’s--as the best player up against the best team and their incredible trio.

If Phoenix can win Thursday, they can tie the all-time record winning streak back at home against Atlanta and Indiana.


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