The small forward should be the best one-on-one player on his team. He needs to be able to have a nose for the basket, and translate that scent into points for his team.
When an offensive set breaks down, the small forward should be able to take his man off the dribble, and get into the lane to make something happen. He should be able to run the floor with ease, and have the ability to score at will when he gets the ball on a fastbreak.
Though being a fabulous shooter is not expected, he should be able to consistently hit the outside shot, which thus forces his defender to play him honestly, rather than sagging off and making him beat him strictly from the outside. The small forward needs to be an energy player; he has to be the person that provides an exciting basket or play when the team needs a lift.
Defensively, his ability to shut down the other team’s swing-men—as the two and three positions are often called—is very important. The small forward also needs to be able to handle the ball; he should be able to get his team into the offense if his point guard is being heavily pressured.
Though a strong post game is not required, he should be able to play out of the post, using his quickness to his advantage against slower defenders.