Souhan: Augustus, Moore took parallel paths to success with different playing styles

Souhan: Augustus, Moore took parallel paths to success with different playing styles

Seimone Augustus was the Minnesota Lynx’s OG—their original great.

Maya Moore was more like 5G — a once-unfathomable system upgrade.

Both grew up in the South, became stars for vaunted college programs, then the first pick in the draft, Team USA stalwarts, WNBA Finals MVPs, teammates on four Lynx championship teams, and, as of Wednesday evening, new members of the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame.

The similarities of their resumes believe the differences in their games.

Augustus was an old-school slasher, using a syncopated cross-over to free herself for mid-range jump shots and a variety of floaters, scoops, fadeaways and leaners. “I knew if I got her the touch, she’d figure out a way to get off her shot,” Lynx coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve said.

Moore was a powerhouse athlete who could shoot deep three-pointers and blow past entire defenses in the open court. “We’d always say it was Maya doing Maya-like things,” Reeve said.

If their games were artwork, Augustus’ would have been represented in watercolors, Moore’s in neon.

Both would become members of the WNBA’s “W25”: the top 25 players in league history. Augustus’ name is listed first alphabetically among the honorees. Her name should always come first in terms of Lynx championship history.

Chronology, in this case, matters. So did Augustus’ insistence on staying in Minnesota.

A knee injury limited Augustus to six games in 2009 and 25 games in 2010. Had Augustus been healthy and at her best in 2010, the Lynx probably would not have been bad enough to land the first pick in the draft in 2011, with which they Moore thing.

Had Augustus not invested in staying in Minnesota, even the arrival of Moore and Lindsay Whalen probably wouldn’t have produced a title in 2011.

“I just always appreciate Seimone for her willingness to be a part of the Lynx,” Reeve said. “When Maya was coming in, maybe others thought it would be a great time for her to leave. Seimone was much wiser than them. She said, we’ve got something great brewing, I’m going to stay here.”

In 2011, while Moore was becoming the WNBA rookie of the year, Augustus was the team’s best player in the championship finals, winning the finals MVP award.

“Seimone was here before all of us,” said Reeve, who drafted or traded for all of the Lynx’s great players other than Augustus. “Before myself, before Lindsay Whalen, before Maya, and before the Lynx became the team that led to a decade of success, Seimone was the one who showed us the way.”

Moore would become the Finals MVP the next time the Lynx won the title, in 2013. The combined talents and personalities of Augustus, Moore and their teammates prompted Sylvia Fowles, then a star for Chicago, to force a trade to Minnesota.

Fowles would win Finals MVP awards during the Lynx’s next two championship runs.

Augustus made space in the Lynx’s offense for Moore, and they both deferred to Fowles after Reeve altered her offense to feed her star post.

“Seimone always had the ability to make her teammates laugh,” Reeve said. “Maya also had a flair for humor. The synergy that group had was really fun to be around.”

With their teammates, they would champion social justice and turn the Lynx into the WNBA’s model franchise.

“These two, they deserve the place that they’ll take in the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame,” Reeve said. “They are two of Minnesota’s all-time greats, regardless of sport or gender.”

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