On May 19, 2015, Flip Saunders stood near the court at Target Center and wept for all to see.

The Timberwolves, the franchise known for bad management and worse luck, had brought Flip back to awaken the echoes of their one great season. The Wolves had thrown a party for the draft lottery show and had defied their star-crossed history by landing the first pick, for the first time.

Saunders cried and raised his arms. Later, he would confide that he thought he would take Jahlil Okafor, the bulky Duke star, with the first pick. Weeks later, I ran into Saunders in the Minneapolis skyway, and, unprompted, he said, "We've done our homework. KAT's our guy."

All these years later, we'll finally find out if Karl-Anthony Towns is the right guy for a winning franchise, and whether Saunders wept for the right reason.

As the Timberwolves begin their first-round playoff series against the formidable Phoenix Suns, Towns receives a chance, perhaps his last, to prove his value in Minnesota.

To prove Flip right for believing in him.

To prove current Wolves boss Tim Connelly right for pairing him with Rudy Gobert instead of listening to public opinion and trading him.

To prove that his detractors overreact to his obvious flaws and ignore his even-more-obvious strengths.

To prove that he deserves to stay with the only professional franchise he has known, with the team that has invested so much money and faith in him.

I asked Towns how important this series is to him, and how important he can be in this series.

His answer to the first question: "Really, really important. Like probably one of the most important things in my career so far here in Minnesota. So I have a great chance to do something. There's a lot on the line, so we've got a lot to play for."

His answer to the second: "I feel like every postseason has presented a new challenge for me. I've had postseasons where I felt like I had to do so much, when I look back and say I could have done less to actually give us more. Postseasons where I felt I needed to help us by doing less and I should have been doing more.

"Comes with experience and growth. I feel like I've got an idea of what I can be, for the best version for this team, out of those three playoff experiences. Put that experience to the forefront, go out there and have fun and help our team be the best version of ourselves."

Towns may be the most willfully misunderstood athlete in recent Minnesota history.

Because he's a former No. 1 overall pick who plays an unconventional style for a big man and hasn't driven or experienced postseason success, he is widely viewed as a symbol of failure instead of an All-Star talent.

Because he can say loose or flippant things that anger sensitive Wolves fans, they question his desire to win.

Because he was injured for much of last season, he didn't get an immediate chance to prove that the Gobert trade was shrewd, and because he missed time down the stretch this season, those who dislike him could surmise that the Wolves are better off without him.

Put aside facile perceptions, and what we have in Towns is a tremendous and unique talent who is also a good person and teammate.

Wolves coach Chris Finch calls him "a giver," someone willing to cede status and shots to Anthony Edwards and Gobert. Nobody worked harder to help Gobert feel comfortable in a new city.

Connelly speaks of Towns' "massive heart" and incredible skill as one of the best-shooting big men in league history.

Towns even curbed his arguments with officials this season, receiving just one technical foul — three fewer than the ultra-popular Naz Reid.

But Towns doesn't get paid all that money to be a good person. He gets paid to be a great basketball player, and he still has far to go to prove himself there.

In this series, if the Suns overplay Edwards, Towns will get a chance to be the defining star in a star-filled playoff series.

It's about time.