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Golden State of Mind's top 10 most popular Warriors stories of 2015

Before fully putting 2015 behind us, I take stock of our traffic numbers to compile a lit of our most popular stories — distinct from a Best Of list — as a reflection on the year that was and a shout out to the efforts of our writers.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Shockingly, nothing about Riley Curry appeared in Golden State of Mind's top 250 posts of 2015, which either means we're heartless nerds who can't be bothered with children or we were too taken with her dad's jumper to take time to write about that.

Another explanation: the most topics in a year are not always defined by the (relatively) brief moments that seem to have everyone talking.

Originality plays some sort of role in popularity, or rather, the big time-limited mainstream stories that everyone is writing about don't stand out as much as more original ongoing stories. If everyone is writing about the same thing, it's sometimes hard for a blog like ours to find its niche; if we hit on something differently or more consistently than everyone else, we make a mark.

Yes, popularity is partially defined by our own editorial decisions — please forgive me for not demanding more Riley from our staff — but stories that are ongoing, themes that are recurring, or history unfolding simply put up better numbers for us than the fleeting moments that everyone wanted to tune into.

Along those lines, rather than throw out yet another "Best Of..." post about a historic Warriors team that literally everyone is talking about, I'll wrap up 2015 by looking back on the most popular stories that we've been talking about around here at GSoM to reflect what we'll remember most about the season.

To help sort out all the crazy internet metrics into one coherent posts, I picked out the most popular topics based on our traffic numbers for the year, ranked those based on how much many views that set of stories received for the year, and from that picked out some of the top stories about that topic.

The results are maybe a bit surprising in retrospect, but maybe that makes it an even more powerful source of reflection. So hey — a top 10 article ensues!

Wait...what about FanPosts?

Yes! After years of complaint about the FanPost section dying, this year was a revival of sorts with FanPosts almost doubling compared to 2014. While some are content to let them die, the fact is that they make the community ... a community ... with free flowing discussion ranging from Christmas carols to nostalgia about days gone by.

Your FanPosts do appear in our traffic numbers and the top one even ended up in our top 10 for the year, which caught the eye of SBN management.

So our 2015 FanPost awards, by category:

Most viewed: Festus Ezeli should start over Andrew Bogut by PlanetAsha (Oct 28, 2015)

Most recommended: Remembering this Moment by coma (Jun 18); The story of Draymond Green by Not a Gunslinger (Jun 17, 2015); An Update to the Chase for 272: Steph is now on pace to tie his record by scraider (Mar 7, 2015)

Most comments: Luke Walton, Jarron Collins earn promotions on Warriors coaching staff by LOVEMEORSPEIGHTSME (Jul 27, 2015)

And to see all of our top community posts, you can check out our "GSoM's Hottest FanPosts and FanShots" section, which is permanently pinned to our front page for you to browse any time.

Moral of the story: we value your FanPosts, we'll put them out on Twitter, we'll promote them to the front page once they get 4 community recs, and news-y items will get promoted ASAP and tend to get more comments. So keep writing them and show some love for the ones you like with a rec or two.

Now...onto the top stories of 2015...

#10. James Michael McAdoo, Festus Ezeli, and the future

Most popular: James Michael McAdoo and the Allure of Potential by Jeff Cheal (Jul 9, 2015)

Trending/Best of SB Nation-NBA: Warriors Bigs are Young, Talented and Scary by Jared Stearne (Jul 26, 2015)

Notable: Scattered and amateur thoughts on Looney after Summer League by Badly Browned (FanPost on Jul 19, 2015)

If I'm honest, there were about a quarter million visits to GSoM this year entirely for articles that I categorized as "building for the future", which was a combination about draft day talk, trade proposals, or just wondering about whether a player is any good.

Also, of course, Kevin Durant (which produced the most popular article on the site in 2015 despite actually having less than 100 words of original text. Internet, FTW).

But the somewhat consistent theme that stood out in that mix was our ongoing interest in — and possibly overblown expectations for — James Michael McAdoo and Kevon Looney, who are at least players currently on the roster if nothing else. Maybe it's a leftover need from the Dark Ages —€” however you define them —€” that leads people down this path of future-orientation, but it's certainly an interesting way to talk about a team that might have less losses than the San Francisco 49ers this season.

Looney has yet to play a game in the NBA yet his length and emergent versatility has some Warriors fans salivating over what he could become. McAdoo might not have quite the cult following as Looney, but has more NBA minutes and has arguably played well enough in short stints to establish himself as worthy of more minutes than Marreese Speights.

What does the future hold for these two? Who knows, but their development is worth watching moving forward because if either one becomes a serviceable player the Warriors could be even better.

#9. Warriors vs. Rockets, 2015 Western Conference Finals

Most popular: Rockets or Clippers: Who is the better matchup for the Warriors? by Nate Parham (May 17, 2015)

Trending/Best of SB Nation-NBA The Warriors are more great than luck by Andy Liu (May 24, 2015); Dwight Howard might not be as important as you think by Jared Stearne (May 20, 2015)

Notable: That wild ending of Warriors-Rockets Game 2 by Apricot (May 22, 2015)

Remember that one time when we thought the Warriors could get Dwight Howard and a lot of people got really excited?

Yeah, good thing that didn't happen.

I don't know if what we have developing here is a rivalry, Howard making himself into one of the NBA's bigger villains or just James Harden becoming an increasingly unlikeable NBA character along with Howard, but beating the Rockets in five games was extremely satisfying.

More satisfying? Continuing to beat them into this season and watching as they crumble into decline.

It's to the point now that I don't even know whether I hate the Rockets or L.A. Clippers more, but it's nice to have beat both into a whiny form of submission.

#8. The 2015 NBA Championship

It's kind of crazy to think that this was only the eighth-biggest story, but consider the methodology: this happened, the entire world was talking about it, and once it was over the whole world sort of moved on. Yet what didn't just get stale was the ongoing discussion about whether the Warriors "got lucky" on their way to their first title in 40 years — somehow that conversation lasted into the preseason and haters on Twitter still somehow manage to default to that during times of stress.

With the idea of the Warriors being lucky floating around, it has also been hard to determine where the 2015 Warriors fit in the long legacy of NBA champions —” those who are honest can acknowledge that their success is unparalleled, but to truly make a mark on history as a team they're going to have to do it again and prove that 2015 was no fluke.

Most popular: The Warriors are the new Bad Boys by Jared Stearne (Aug 11, 2015)

Trending/Best of SB Nation NBA: Do the Warriors deserve this championship? by Apricot (Jun 17, 2015)

Notable: Recapping the Warriors' championship parade by Bram Kincheloe (Jun 19, 2015)

#7. The enigma that is Harrison Barnes

Most popular: Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli: The Future of the Golden State Warriors by Conrad Chow (Aug 14, 2015)

Trending/Best of SB Nation NBA: Harrison Barnes, His Agent, and the big contract gamble by Apricot (Sept 22, 2015)

Notable: The quiet consistency of Playoff Harrison Barnes against the Grizzlies by Nate P. (May 18, 2015)

I think anyone who ever doubted Harrison Barnes has to be eating a healthy dose of crow at this point.

Barnes' injury has proven that he has become an integral part to this team's success —€” whether you think he's exceeded or fallen short of draft day expectations, we can probably all agree now that the team is better with him on the floor. The tricky part is how much money he's worth as a free agent and whether he's replaceable.

I've maintained that he has a unique combination of strengths that a) makes him more valuable to this team than others and b) makes the Warriors the best fit for him. But it only takes one team to offer him an insane amount of money for the variables to change and change the value proposition.

#6. The emergence of Draymond Green, playmaker extraordinaire

Most popular: Draymond Green ranked 16th in SI's Top 100 by Nate Parham (Sept 3, 2015)

Trending/Best of SB Nation NBA: The defensive philosophies of Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala by Andy Liu (Jan 3, 2015)

Notable: Curry & Green's favorite play by Apricot (Nov 18, 2015)

We can certainly debate how valuable Draymond Green is relative to Stephen Curry, but there's no question that his versatility is a near-perfect complement for Curry that makes this team go — even that is quite an incredible statement given that the Splash Brothers moniker implies a genetically pre-determined ideal.

But after getting a league-high fifth triple-double last night in Houston, it's clear that the development of his playmaking skills is what has really been most impressive about his 2015. And that's something special considering that he was also the real winner runner-up for the 2015 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and the team's trash-talker-in-chief.

#5: The development of Festus Ezeli

Most popular: Festus Ezeli should start over Andrew Bogut by PlanetAsha (FanPost - Oct 28, 2015)

Trending/Best of SB Nation NBA: Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli: The Future of the Golden State Warriors by Conrad Chow (Aug 14, 2015)

Notable: Thunderous Draymond Green to Festus Ezeli alley-oop dunk by Apricot (Nov 21, 2015)

After missing most of the 2014-15 season due to recovery from injury, Ezeli's development entering a contract year was a major question mark. But when forced to step into the starting lineup in place of the oft-injured Andrew Bogut, Ezeli stepped up and it's hard to imagine that his value hasn't increased.

There's still room to debate how much the Warriors should offer him as a restricted free agent this summer, but he's managed to cross one of the biggest hurdles in getting a contract: he has proven beyond a doubt that the team can win (regular season) games with him in the starting lineup, which makes a solid case for him to get PAID this coming offseason.

#4. The Warriors' historic start to the 2015-16 season

Most popular: Stephen Curry cold-blooded go-ahead three against the Jazz by Apricot (Dec 1, 2015)

Trending/Best of SB Nation NBA: Three game-ending Stephen Curry decoys against the Celtics by Apricot (Dec 12, 2015)

Notable: The streak is dead; long live the streak by Bram Kincheloe (Dec 13, 2015)

Before the Warriors beat the Rockets (again) on New Year's Eve on the road on the back end of a back-to-back with four rotation players absent a night after getting blown out by the Dallas Mavericks, the Warriors once extended their historic undefeated start to the season by beating the Boston Celtics on the road in double overtime without Leandro Barbosa, Harrison Barnes, and Klay Thompson.

See a theme here?

I'm not sure which win was actually more impressive given the circumstances — is winning on the road without Curry and three others more impressive than doing so short-handed in double overtime? —€” but as that Celtics game was the last game of the streak when there was every reason for it to end was definitely among the most memorable moments of a championship year.

People Trolls will try to diminish the streak in...the ways that trolls do...but it was something that no other team has done in the history of professional sports; the fact that they did it while fighting through such adversity only makes it more impressive.

#3. Warriors vs. Cavs, 2015 NBA Finals

Most popular: This isn't how the NBA Finals were supposed to go! by Ronaldinho (Jun 10, 2015)

Notable: The Golden State Warriors and the genius of change by Bram Kincheloe (Jun 12, 2015); The night Andre Iguodala, Warriors supporting cast fought back by Andy Liu (Jun 12, 2015)

For longtime Warriors fans, it still might be hard to believe that the franchise that once celebrated the acquisition of Anthony Randolph not only made the NBA Finals in 2015 but also beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. As we discussed in a recent podcast with Ryan Mourton of Fear the Sword, one of the craziest things about the season was probably that Andre Iguodala won NBA Finals MVP for being the guy who gave the best effort in stopping LeBron, who was simply otherworldly.

But the series also showcased the value of the Warriors' small lineup, which Steve Kerr unleashed on the Cavs as a change of pace after the Warriors got down 2-1 early in the series. The series was ultimately a showcase of the roster's versatility and the coaching staff's creativity when facing a challenge, which really defined the postseason run in a multiple ways.

#2. Stephen Curry's superstar ascendance

Most popular: Stephen Curry turns two blitzes into dunks by Apricot (Dec 19, 2015)

Trending/Best of SB Nation NBA: What else is there to say about Stephen Curry? by Andy Liu (Nov 2, 2015)

Notable: Steph Versus The Goliaths: An Appreciation for Curry's Defense by Apricot (Apr 1, 2015); Steph Curry: Rise of the MVP by Basketball Jonez (May 4, 2015)

Curry received so many accolades last year, that I'm not even sure what else there is to say about Steph, but from regular season daggers to improbable playoff shots to game-winners it was those unbelievable singular high moments that really propelled his popularity upward.

To start the 2015-16 season, Apricot has helped us understand Curry's development from how he's splitting traps to finding new ways to drop dimes to teammates with his play analyses. And with SI recently identifying Curry as the most intriguing athlete of 2016, the only question is whether he can continue to get better in 2016.

So what could possibly top the popularity of Stephen Curry?

1. David Lee parting ways with the Warriors

Most popular: Thank you David Lee: Warriors trade the big man to the Celtics by Bram Kincheloe (Jul 8, 2015)

Trending/Best of SB Nation NBA: What will the Warriors do about David Lee? by Basketball Jonez (April 28, 2015)

Notable: The financial impact of the David Lee trade and new salary cap numbers for the Warriors by Sam Sorkin (July 9, 2015)

Whether going by traffic, top post frequency for a player not named Curry, or comment volume, the biggest story of the year for GSoM was by far the discussion about whether to trade David Lee and the analysis afterward.

And perhaps that's fitting for 2015: Lee was very much a bridge between a dismal past and surreal present, the only All-Star on the roster for years who couldn't find a place in the rotation when the team ascended to the top of the league. Regardless of you thoughts about his shortcomings, the way he handled his final season in the Bay Area speaks volumes about the type of person he is and the type of people it takes to build a champion.

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