OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry has spent five seasons burnishing his offensive credentials, which rank among the five most impressive in the league.
Now the All-Star point guard will be asked to put greater emphasis on defense.
Rookie coach Steve Kerr said Thursday that he and his staff have studied enough video to conclude that Curry can draw more demanding defensive assignments.
"We've all watched a ton of film this summer and, to a man, our staff believes Steph is a lot better defensively than he's given credit for," Kerr said. "He works at it."
Generally, Curry got the least demanding assignment on the opposing team's smaller players, while fellow guard Klay Thompson drew the more difficult tasks.
"In my mind, we have a pretty good situation because Klay is so good guarding Chris Paul, for example, in the playoffs that it's a great option," Kerr said, referring to Jackson's tendency to put Thompson on the more dynamic point guards. "But certain matchups might go the other way, where we have to have Steph on the point guard. And we think that's a perfectly viable option."
The coaches will appeal to Curry's innate competitiveness in hopes of boosting his defensive credibility. David Lee and Curry are considered the weakest links of what has become a solid Warriors defense.
"We want to maintain the defense," Kerr said. "The defense was really good last year. This team has established itself as an excellent defensive team. We definitely don't want to lose that. We want to build on the foundation that's already here. If that entails putting Steph on certain point guards that we didn't in the past, then we'll do that."
Curry's first NBA coach, Don Nelson, placed no emphasis on defense. Then came Keith Smart, who never quite trusted Curry at the point, on offense or defense.
Mark Jackson shielded Curry on defense partly because he had Thompson but mostly to limit the likelihood of his best offensive player getting in foul trouble.
Kerr and his staff, particularly veteran assistant Ron Adams, aim to crush the harsh criticisms of Curry's defense. They believe the All-Star is tired of hearing about it.
"I would be, if I were him," Kerr said. "And it's not true. Certain matchups are really hard for anybody. But when I watch Steph on tape, I see a good defensive player, and a guy who can get better. We're going to work hard on that all year."