OAKLAND -– The Spurs will get old, the Clippers may implode and the Rockets continue to search for their soul.
The Mavericks still revolve around Dirk Nowitzki, whose legs have logged more minutes than all but 19 players in NBA history. Marc Gasol might be walking from Memphis next summer, and LaMarcus Aldridge could blaze a trail out of Portland.
The only two teams that appear to be locked and loaded to compete for Western Conference supremacy this season and beyond are the Warriors and the Thunder, who meet Monday night at Oracle Arena.
[POOLE: Warriors brace for another dose of Durant]
Their rivalry is not as combustible as Warriors-Clippers, but it's intense enough that it could challenge that in the coming months and years. Their meeting Monday will be the third of the season and the second in 19 days.
You could say they're becoming quite familiar with each other.
"It's just two very good teams that are trying to force their will on the other team," Andre Iguodala said. "It's like two walls of steel clashing. And we're seeing who's going to bend first.
"It's always a lot of fun going against those guys. They have a bit of an edge to them. We have a few young guns that are really trying to show the league who they are."
After being dominated by the Thunder in recent years, losing 15 of the last 21 meetings prior to this season, the Warriors are fighting back. They've won both games this season and a victory on Monday would give them their first season-series win since the franchise left Seattle after the 2007-08 season.
After winning won the league's MVP award last season, Thunder star Kevin Durant has been superb but also has missed 23 of OKC's 34 games. Meanwhile, Warriors star Stephen Curry has been a rock, putting himself in the thick of the MVP race for this season.
And now that Durant is back, partnering with electrifying guard Russell Westbrook –- who missed the first four weeks of the season -– OKC is making a push to return to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
"It's what everybody expected," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "They've been hit hard with their main two guys, injury-wise. But they have such a good foundation there. Even when they were without both of them, we went to Oklahoma City and had a rough time. They defend and they compete every night. You know they're bringing that. And when they've got everybody healthy, they've got all that talent and it's a great combination."
It makes for tremendous basketball when these teams meet. In three games last season, the teams were separated by a total of six points. The Warriors posted a one-point win at home (116-115) on an Iguodala buzzer-beater before dropping the final two meetings, including one in overtime, in Oklahoma City.
The Warriors have won each of the first two meetings this season, both by five.
"You know it's going to be a tough game," Draymond Green said. "If you don't come out and play your game and raise your level, you'll probably get blown out."
Indeed, the two biggest obstacles between the Warriors and the NBA Finals in 2015 and 2016 appear to be their own health and the potent presence of Durant.
Durant can become an unrestricted free agent in 2016. He's clearly a franchise player, and OKC management has vowed to do all it can to keep him. Yet the folks in the Washington D.C. area, where he grew up, dream of Durant joining the Wizards.
Curry also can become a UFA in 2016. He's clearly the Warriors' franchise player and CEO Joe Lacob surely will back up the truck. Yet there are people in Curry's native Charlotte that cling to the fantasy of a homecoming.
For now, Warriors-Thunder, like Curry-Durant, is a marquee matchup that promises the best in NBA entertainment. And there still is room for the emotions to grow.