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2017 Year in Review: A detailed look at our most read Mystics pieces of the year

Mystics guard Bria Hartley is dribbling the ball
To our surprise, Bria Hartley continued to get consistent page clicks on our site, well after her trade to the New York Liberty.
Stewart W. Small

Today, let’s take a deeper look at our Mystics content from 2017.

The 5 most read Mystics pieces

In our first part, you learned that Elena Delle Donne’s collaboration with the Knot was our most read Mystics piece. In fact, It was one of our Top 40 pieces in all of 2017! Now let’s go through the next five pieces that had the most page views.

#2. Mystics acquire Elena Delle Donne from Sky for Dolson, Copper, and 2017 draft pick, according to report - No surprise here. When you get one of the WNBA’s top 3 players, it’s getting eyeballs!

#3. Bria Hartley gives birth to son - Though she now plays for the New York Liberty after getting traded just a couple days before the Delle Donne blockbuster, Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson received consistent amounts of page clicks. Hartley missed the second half of the WNBA season due to pregnancy, and her son Bryson was born on January 14. Bryson is now almost one year old and celebrated Christmas in Mersin, Turkey with mom.

#4. Elena Delle Donne comes to Washington, meets John Wall and Bradley Beal - Because EDD had to have a grand entrance and take her rightful place in D.C. sports!

#5 Delle Donne called out Lonzo Ball’s shoes - During NBA Summer League, Delle Donne got in a little brouhaha with the Big Baller Brand. Unfortunately, she hurt her ankle soon after that incident.

#6 Bria Hartley’s baby shower - This piece was actually published in December 2016. But I was quite surprised to see that there was a steady stream of visitors coming to this particular page, all year long!

Editors’ picks

Here are some staff selections for best Mystics pieces that didn’t rank in the Top 5, but were some of our best pieces of the year:

An Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman frontcourt will open up the Mystics’ playbook this season - The key of any Mystics championship team in the short run is how their star forwards will play together. This piece broke it down nicely on how the Mystics could utilize both of their strengths.

Unfortunately, Delle Donne and Meesseman didn’t get to play most of the regular season together. Meesseman missed most of the first half because of EuroBasket Women 2017 while Delle Donne was injured in the second. But they did stretch the floor and had some big games toward the end of the regular season nevertheless.

How Elena Delle Donne is using her wedding to give back - Delle Donne had her official wedding last November. We had a chance to interview her and her now-wife, Amanda Clifton, who was a Division I basketball players herself. You’d think that they would have a basketball-themed wedding, but that wasn’t the case. They instead decided to focus on sustainability and charity where flowers were re-purposed for hospitals, and their wedding registry was actually for charity.

Thank you Bria Hartley - Hartley was well-liked among the Mystics’ fanbase from 2014-2016. So it was sad to see her go to the Liberty, and see Kristi Toliver replace her just a few days later. My assumption at the time was that the trade would be justified Toliver’s game today is better than Bria Hartley in the short term — or perhaps longer than that. Toliver fulfilled her end of the bargain, especially in the playoffs in a game against the Liberty.

But Hartley had a nice bounceback year of her own. She struggled to get playing time at the beginning of the 2017 season, but quickly became a rotation and starting player thanks to Epiphanny Prince’s absence due to EuroBasket Women 2017 when she played for Russia. So, I’m glad to see Hartley’s back on track. I’m just disappointed that the Mystics don’t have her anymore.

Anyway, in that piece, I even wrote an open letter to Bryson when he’s old enough to read and consider playing for the Washington Wizards one day. You read it here first!

Emma Meesseman posts touching photo of her grandfather after victory over the Netherlands - The 2017 Mystics season was about homecomings, especially with Elena Delle Donne now playing for the team closest to her home in Delaware. For Meesseman, she played for Belgium in EuroBasket Women 2017 and got to play a few friendlies in her country. She had a chance to play in Ieper, her hometown in a friendly against the Netherlands, Belgium’s biggest rival — even if the Dutch didn’t make EuroBasket.

After, her she took a pic with her opa (Dutch for grandpa), NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH oppa 오빠 (Korean for older brother ONLY if a woman says it — or when she says it to any man she calls in an endearing way like you hear in Gangnam Style) watched her for the first time in a Belgian uniform beating the country they want to beat the most. He was emotional after the game — just .... awwwww.

On that note, all of our content of Belgium’s bronze medal finish in EuroBasket Women 2017 is worth a read in and of itself.

Q&A with FIBA’s Paul Nilsen - EuroBasket Women 2017 happened in the middle of a crucial year in the EDD Era of the franchise. But it also put Mystics fans in a conflicted spot because Emma Meesseman missed much of the first half of the season. In a way, you want to see Meesseman do well. But you don’t want to see her miss much time either.

We had the chance to speak with Nilsen, FIBA’s women’s basketball writer on that, the FIBA Women’s World Cup next year, and even an overview on how European professional teams balance out their domestic league vs. continental priorities. It’s quite similar to the way European soccer teams handle these situations.

Takeaways

The EDD effect is real - The Mystics news follows the lead of their most notable player, whoever that may be. Most of our Mystics traffic went up considerably in large part because the Mystics now have their first franchise superstar since Chamique Holdsclaw. Sure, we had plenty of traffic with Emma Meesseman as the Mystics’ best player -- and she still could regain that spot because she’s nearly four years younger than Delle Donne.

But even though she may be a European superstar, the bottom line is that she isn’t one on this side of the pond. EDD is. Now that the first season with her is in the books, I’m excited to see what’s in store for 2018.

If only Bria Hartley was still a Mystic - Hey, when two of our top 5 most read Mystics pieces AND 4 of our top 20 most read Mystics pieces are mentioning a player who isn’t in a Mystics uniform anymore, that tells me two things.

First, there may be a vacuum of New York Liberty content beyond the general WNBA sites, since that’s where Hartley plays now. So for much of the year when Noo-Yawkers went to Google to search for information, instead of reading about the Bria Hartley, the new guard for the Libs, they’re finding Bria Hartley of the Washington Mystics instead. That wasn’t our intent. But I’m not surprised that we got little boosts of Hartley traffic when she had a big game for the Libs, or when a Long Island newspaper talks about her in general.

But second, it also tells me that we could’ve had a lot more Bria Hartley clicks this season IF she still was a Mystics player. However, it wasn’t meant to be. She’s in New York now. And yes, I still follow her career. But now, I’m relegated to just watching her highlights quietly, unless the Mystics manage to re-acquire her next February!

Emma Meesseman’s performance on the court mirrors her performance as an internet topic - The good news about Meesseman the basketball player is that she’s as efficient as it gets for post players. Her game is friendly for basketball coaches who want to show which players are great at fundamentals.

But her game isn’t SportsCenter friendly and she isn’t as gregarious as Stefanie Dolson was during her Mystics days. That said, I made a couple of attempts to show her highlights here and here. The same narrative can be said about Meesseman’s page clicks. No piece on her was particularly “viral.” But she ended up with more clicks than every player besides Delle Donne. Emma’s legit.