Karl-Anthony Towns donates Rookie of the Year gift to the late Flip Saunders

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Karl-Anthony Towns, as expected, secured the NBA Rookie of the Year award yesterday and he did it with all 130 first place votes to make him the fifth unanimous winner since the award's inception back in the 1952-53 season.

His journey from Kentucky prospect to the NBA's top rookie is quite a spectacular one. The center posted the best rookie season by a big man since a certain Tim Duncan. He averaged 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks and helped the Timberwolves win 13 more games than they did the previous season.

He's also as durable as he is talented. Towns played all 82 games and was named Western Conference rookie of the month in all six months the award was handed out.

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One man that Towns thanks for his meteoric rise is the recently departed Flip Saunders, who tragically died after a battle with cancer last October at the age of 60.

Saunders was Towns' first ever coach in the NBA and was the head coach of the Timberwolves when the young phenomenon was drafted last summer.

As sponsors of the award, Kia Motors America usually awards the rookie with a brand new car for the achievement.

However, on this occasion, Kia donated a new Sorento CUV to the Minnesota Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on Towns' behalf. Towns said the donation was made to honor the late Saunders and his wife, Debbie, both of whom the 20-year-old referred to as "like a second family to me."

When I got the news I'd won the award and I was getting a Kia, I think the biggest thing I could only think about was Debbie [Saunders] and Flip," Towns said. "They're like my family. They're like a second family to me. ... I knew right away I wanted to do something special for Flip."

The Timberwolves number 32 remained humble after winning the award and his donation to the Saunders family really is a nice touch of class. Towns insists this accolade isn't just about his success this season; it's something that the young and vibrant Minnesota roster helped him achieve.

"This is not something you win by yourself," Towns said. "This is a team award. This is something done by everyone coming together."

KAT is the 17th No. 1 overall pick to win the Rookie of the Year award. He became the fifth unanimous choice since the 7'4" Ralph Sampson won it in after the 1983-84 season. Damian Lillard (2012-13), Blake Griffin (2010-11) and David Robinson (1989-90) are the other unanimous winners and they aren't bad company to keep in the league whatsoever.

The Timberwolves are on the cusp of something special with KAT as their centrepiece. Now that Tom Thibodeau is at the helm, maybe Towns will become the youngest ever MVP in the same way that Thibodeau guided a young Derrick Rose to that accolade during his time in Chicago.

Karl-Anthony Towns
Minnesota Timberwolves
Northwest Division
Western Conference
Andrew Wiggins

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