A shooting guard is a player, who can drive to the basket and make cuts to the basket when he doesn't have the ball. A small forward is a player, who can score, shoot, rebound, defend and pass. This difference is key to understand in order to be able to identify the shooting guard as compared to the small forward. Both are important positions on the court and in many cases the small forward or shooting guard is the best player on a team. Efficient play from your shooting guard and small forward can lead to great success in terms of wins and losses.
The shooting guard is much different than a small forward as he is often smaller than a small forward. They are often the players who love to shoot the ball. Shooting guards can catch-and-shoot and also cut to the basket. Most shooting guards are great defenders as well because they have the size to defend point guards and their own position. The best shooting guards can be the anchor of a team and the leader on the court. If a shooting guard is the anchor of your team you are probably a shooting team as opposed to a team that drives the ball down low and plays in the paint. The best example of a shooting guard is Michael Jordan, who is arguably the greatest player of all time because of these qualities. A current example of this is James Harden who is considered to be one of the NBA's best shooting guards and best players overall.
The small forward position is the player who can essentially "do it all." They can score, shoot, defend, rebound and pass. He is more often than not the best player on the team. They are bigger than the shooting guards and point guards, but not bigger than the power forwards and centers. Again, if the small forward is the best player on your team they would most likely be the anchor of your offense and defense on the court. Players look to the small forward to lead them throughout the game and especially in big moments. The best example of a small forward is LeBron James, he can do just about everything on a basketball court and is looked to as the anchor of any team he is on. James is considered widely to be the best player of his generation and one of the greatest basketball players of all time.